Room of the Marching Priests
Crocodiles, in Mesoamerica, were associated with fertility and the arrival of rains. The priest's face is striped with horizontal bands of dark paint and he wears an elaborate costume that extends to his knees. In one of his hands, he holds a small satchel, marking him as a priest. The satchel probably contains copal incense. With the other hand, the priest sows seeds, another reference to fertility. A speech scroll extends in front of him but, unlike scrolls in other murals, this one emerges from his hand, not his mouth. The placement may relate to the seeds or the action of sowing, particularly since plants appear to be growing from the sides of the scroll and maiz (corn) and flowers can be seen within it.
Mural of the Water Mountain
Tlalocan, one of the 13 levels of heaven, ruled by Tlaloc, the Rain God. Tlalocan was a place of abundant water and never-ending springtime. The images seemed to fit Aztec beliefs about Tlaloc, but they arrived on the scene many centuries after Teotihuacán was abandoned. Many archeologists now believe that, rather than Tlalocan, this image represents Cerro Gordo, the extinct volcano that rises to the north of Teotihuacán, behind the Pyramid of the Moon. The mountain was revered by the Teotihuacanos as the source of their city's water. Current opinion now holds that the mural depicts Cerro Gordo as the sacred "Water Mountain", associated with the Great Goddess--Teotihuacán's chief deity--rather than Tlaloc.
The Tlaloc Murals
numeric system used in pre-hispanic times gave values to dots and dashes: a dot equalled 1 and a dash equalled 5. If the symbols are numeric, it would show a series of elevens along the border of the mural. It is not clear which interpretation might be correct.
Mural of the Red Shields
Teotihuacán war shields were square or rectangular, not round, so it is possible that the image has some other meaning besides a military one. If it does represent a warrior's shield, it may reflect the multi-cultural nature of Teotihuacán, which people from the Maya areas, the Zapotec kingdom of Monte Alban, as well as other parts of Mesoamerica.
appears on a stela at Xochicalco in the middle of a plaza that forms the entrance to that city. Archeologists believe that Xochicalco was founded by refugees from the collapse of Teotihuacán in 650 AD. Like Teotihuacan, images and references to the Plumed Serpent appear throughout Xochicalco.
Mural of the Four Petal Flowers
Pyramid of the Sun ends in chambers shaped like a four-petal flower. Four-petal flowers also appear in relief carvings on the columns at the Palace of Quetzalpapalotl, near the Pyramid of the Moon. There are many more examples to be found throughout the city. The four-petal flower symbolized the earth, with its four sacred directions. The designers of Teotihuacán divided the city into four quadrants, separated from north to south by the Avenue of the Dead. Another east to west avenue crossed the Avenue of the Dead perpendicularly at the Citadel. All this represented a conscious and deliberate attempt to build a city that imitated the cosmos with Teotihuacán at the center of the "four-petal" earth.
This completes my posting on Palacio Tepantitla. I hope you enjoyed the murals of this extraordinary compound. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them in the Comments section below, or email me directly.
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Hasta luego, Jim