Chimalli, Moctezuma's treasure arrives at Castillo de Chapultepec

"Chimalli. Treasure of Moctezuma in Chapultepec "is much more than an open exhibition in the iconic castle bordered by that forest, it is the biography of an exceptional piece, of a prehispanic shield of singular beauty and historical value; It is one of four that exist in the world.

The exhibition represents the x-ray of a prehispanic shield that left the country in the 16th century and returned in the 19th century. Publicity photo
The exhibition represents the x-ray of a prehispanic shield that left the country in the 16th century and returned in the 19th century. Publicity photo

According to curators Laura Filloy and María Olvido Moreno Guzmán, on the battlefield the chimalli (circular shield) was a powerful defensive weapon of the Mexica warriors.

The piece that is now exhibited crossed the Atlantic twice: it left Mexico in the sixteenth century on the threshold of the Conquest and returned in the nineteenth.

Around this piece, the curatorial discourse brings together more than 300 objects including feather and archeological art pieces, oil paintings, weapons, taxidermy, lithographs and documents from various institutions and museums.

In the 16th century, it left Mexico along with other objects that showed the riches of America and today its greatness appears here.

After traveling through various parts of Europe arrived at the Habsburg court in Vienna and in the nineteenth century, in a noble gesture, Maximilian wanted to give Mexico an example of the weapons of his former emperor Moctezuma II and the shield returned to this country . In its deluxe versions, the chimalli was a valuable badge in ceremonies and rituals.

Special versions were also made for the rulers, priests, to dress the deities and distinguish the best fighters and leaders of warrior groups. The magnificent piece that is exhibited was elaborated with ocelot skin, feathers and gold in the specialized workshops of the Great Tenochtitlan.

There ornaments and badges were made. The fact is that before 1524 the so-called Cuexyo Chimalli arrived in Europe. The route that followed, the port to which it arrived and the name of its new owner are ignored.

Until the nineteenth century, his whereabouts were again known in Vienna, in the private collections of the House of Habsburg.

They draw attention to their organic components that eventually made them one of the most fragile historical objects, those destined for war none were preserved.

Of the luxury ones, decorated with thin sheets of gold, feathers of colored birds, semiprecious stones, pearls and rattles, four survive.

In 1865, during the Second Empire, Maximilian undertook actions to transform and enrich the collections of the National Museum of Mexico.

He went to his family to move documents and objects to Mexico that were in repositories of the Austrian court. Among them was the shield, which returned to this territory in January 1866.

Since 1944 the Cuexyo Chimalli is a treasure of the Castillo de Chapultepec. There he was under controlled conditions for several years, among the collections of the National Museum of History.

Now it is the centerpiece of the Chimalli temporary sample. Treasure of Moctezuma in Chapultepec, explained the two specialists.

From this Wednesday until May the public will be able to see that exceptional piece made with ocelot, rabbit and deer skins, Mexican bamboo, gold, agave fibers, cotton, pearls, a variety of semiprecious stones and feathers of parrots, quetzals and Ducks.

It also has elements of other animals that it has not been possible to identify.

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