An Aztec Offering on View in Contested Visions

January 4, 2012

The Aztec cache known as Ofrenda 7, on view in the exhibition Contested Visions in the Spanish Colonial World, is one of some 130 offerings that were discovered within the Aztec’s Templo Mayor in recent years. The Aztecs buried offerings that came from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Bringing objects from these remote areas demonstrated the Aztec’s reach and power. The objects also functioned as a microcosm of the universe. Offering 7, recovered from the Huitzilopochtli side of the twin pyramid, dates to a construction period associated with emperor Moctezuma I (r. 1440–69) or Axayactl (r. 1469–81). Its contents—largely aquatic material such as seashells, freshwater fish, coral, and reptiles—evoke the layers of the cosmos, from the watery underworld to the surface of the earth. The offering also includes effigies of Xiuhtecuhtli and Tlaloc, the gods of fire and rain, who together preside over the gift and establish cosmic order. To install Offering 7, the Museo del Templo Mayor’s archeaologist Fernando Carrizosa Montfort and chief conservator María Barajas Rocha spent several days at LACMA. Here, Mr. Carrizosa Montfort explains the complex meanings of this remarkable piece during the installation at LACMA.

The Latin American department