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Art and Culture, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 332

Essay

In Teotihuacan, Mexico, and dating back to the dominance of the Aztecs, stands the Temple of the Feathered Serpent.  This pyramid, clearly an important edifice in the “Avenue of the Dead” of the region, offers a variety of interpretations as to its actual meaning.  On one level, and like the pyramids of other Eastern cultures, one purpose is evident: interment.  It was discovered in the 1980s that the Feathered Serpent Pyramid actually housed a huge sacrificial and burial complex.  Multiple chambers and casements have been uncovered and, despite the damage from looting over long centuries, it is clear to archeologists that the site was chiefly created to secure human remains (archeology.asu).  More interesting, however,  is the ceremonial aspect of the art/site, and how it may reflect Aztec belief systems.

In terms of cultural significance, for instance, the Feathered Serpent represented the god of storms and rain to the Aztec people, as the icon was used by other Mesoamerican cultures in ways not known today (Getlein  456).  That the unique image was widely adopted in the region points to a form of worship clearly beyond specific societies, and consequently adds power to the figure.  To any native civilization, agriculture was life itself, so it is reasonable to conclude that a god representing the forces of weather would be vastly powerful.   That such a god is also employed to “protect” the dead is then all the more compelling, and indicates that the culture had a sense of life cycles as reflecting those of nature and the earth.  Other cultures assign deities to graves that are specifically based on human interests.  In this usage of the Feathered Serpent, it may be said that the Mesoamerican peoples were acknowledging the natural ties between human life and the elemental forces governing it, and that all humans serve the earth in life and in death.

References

Getlein, Mark. Living With Art, 9th Ed.  New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010.  Print.

Archaeology of Teotihuacan, Mexico.  The Feathered Serpent Pyramid Pages. 2001.

Web.  Retrieved from  http://archaeology.asu.edu/teo/fsp/index.htm

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