Saturday, March 17, 2018

Templo Mayor, Palacio Nacional, Secretaria de Educacion Publica, Museo de Frida Kahl, Lucha Libre, Mexico City, March 16, 2018

The sun was shining on the Catedral-

as I walked to my first stop- Templo Mayor

Templo Mayor is a new excavation right in the heart of downtown Mexico.  In 1978, some electricity workers found an 8 tonne stone disc carving of Coyolxauhqui, an Aztec goddess.  The city decided it was time to bulldoze some colonial buildings and excavate.  They found a lot of cool stuff.  This platform dates from 1400 A.D.-

The temple is on the exact spot where the Aztecs, after being directed by Huizilopochtli, the Aztec war God, went searching for a new home and found their eagle perched on a cactus with a snake in its mouth.  The area was built in 7 different stages over 200 years featuring temples to the rain God Tlaloc and the god of war, Huitzilopochtli-

Everything is made from earth, lime, sand and a lot of volcanic rock that was readily available and that could be transported via boat in the nearby lake.  They could transport up to 1200 kg-

The chac-mool sculpture is Tláloc, the God of rain.  It dates back to 1350 AD-

There are 2 serpents measuring 6m at the entrance to one of the platforms and they represent the place where Huizilopochtli was born-

There are a lot of carvings on the walls and some red paint is still visible but everything is so hard to interpret-

240 skulls decorate a wall-

These red circles surround an altar-

Across the grounds of Templo Mayor, looking towards Catedral-

The museum is awesome and it's where all the original pieces reside such as an exhibit showing what archaeologists find-

And what they do with the pieces-

to, in this case, finally make a censer.  Censers were used to burn copal, an aromatic resin offered to the gods-

The original wall of skulls-

This Golden Eagle carving was used as a container for offerings to the gods.  It has a hollowed out opening on its back-

More carvings.  Imagine digging and discovering something like this-

Skull masks were made using partial human skulls and inserting discs made of pyrite and shells into the eyes.  The masks were used as offerings.  Sometimes knives made from flint were inserted into the mouth and nose-

The offering box from 1470 AD contained 13 green stones as an offering to Tláloc, the rain God.  When found, it was covered in stucco-

Mictlantecuhtli is the God of Death.  He has claws, curly hair and his liver hangs under his thorax because according to Aztec beliefs, the liver is related to the underworld-

These flag bearers have holes in their chests that contained a green stone representing their hearts-

Frogs were important because when they croaked, they were announcing the coming of rain.  During the month of the maíz festival, they were dressed in blue, cooked and eaten.  Don't ask me how they know this-

Two wolf skeletons, a human skull, shells, musical whistles of obsidian and shell, as well as jewelry, all offerings to the gods, were found in a tomb-

More cool carvings: a shell-

Ceramic effigy braziers represent different vegetation deities and were used to burn copal as an offering. They wear fancy headdresses and are adorned with jewelry and flowers.from 1469-1481 A.D. 

Tláloc is the Aztec's rain God.  He has a moustache cover, two sharp fangs and a forked tongue.  The rectangles coming out of the sides of his head represent his headdress.  He is weeping which represents fertility and rain-

The Aztecs enjoyed life in this area until Herman Cortes showed up November 8, 1519.  Montezuma was ruling the Aztecs at this time and 2 years later Tenochtitlan (Templo Mayor) and life as the Aztecs knew it was over.  The Spaniards quickly destroyed as much as they could of the Aztec temples and tried their best to convert them to Catholicism.  Churches and other colonial buildings were built on Aztec sites using the rocks already cut and transported by the Aztecs.  It wasn't until excavations started in 1978 - 1982 that these treasures were found.  It's hard to believe that it is such a new find and I wonder what else is still buried, not only here but around the world.

My next stop was to be the Palacio Nacional but I was turned away at the door because I needed my passport.  I went home to get it and ended up stopping at the nearby Secretaria de Educacion Publica building to see fresco paintings by Diego Rivera, a famous Mexican painter who lived from 1885-1957.  There are over 120 frescoes on three floors.  They were painted between 1923-1928 and depict Mixtec life at the time.  Most measure about 10 feet by 20 feet-

The (cloth) Dyers and the Wise-

Entrance to the mine-

The Washer Women and Dance of the Ribbons-

The Offerings-

My favourites:  Day of the Dead-

And Wall Street Banquet-

Unfortunately the colors were so much more vibrant than my camera picked up.  

On my way back to the Palacia Nacional, I had lunch - tacos al pastor, this time with pineapple-

Once again at the Palacio I was turned away because I only brought a copy of my passport.  So I went home again!  Finally I was allowed in.  It has a lot more of Diego Rivera's murals, painted between 1929 and 1951.  The staircase is a huge "Find Waldo" work- 

These murals are more colorful and depict Mixtec life-

There was an excellent exhibition of the life and history of the Mixtecs - Indigenous and Spanish mixed people, just like our Metis but I had had enough of museums after the Templo Mayor.  I did however really like this conch carving-

The Palacio is gigantic and home to offices of the President of Mexico and the Federal Treasury-

Once back on the street, I saw Aztec dancers who perform in the square every day.  They also burn copal-

I was on my way to the metro to go to Frida Kahlo's Museum and passed by the The Catedral, this time bathed in sunshine-

The subway is always busy but so cheap: 5 pesos or 35 cents.  It's fast and there are a lot of trains, however, stations are far apart-

This train is pretty funky-

My next stop was in Coyoacan, a former town that has been swallowed by the city, to visit the Frida Kahlo Museum, also known as The Blue House.  Luckily I bought my ticket online for 4 pm.  When I got here, I walked up to the front door and was allowed in.  I don't know what all these people were thinking and I can't imagine the wait-

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) was a Mexican artist who was born, lived and died in this house.  She was married to Diego Rivera who was 21 years her senior but at times they lived in separate spaces.  The house remains pretty much as it was when she was alive.  It seems to me that it's kind of cultish because the museum is one of the most visited in the city.  I'll have to watch the movie Frida (2002) when I get home for a better understanding-

Frida and the Caesarean.  She was obsessed with having children, maybe because she couldn't-

This poster is on display in her art studio, again, eluding to her obsession with childbirth-

Long Live Life-

Frida's Family Tree that she never finished-

Stalin and Frida.  Apparently he lived in the Blue House for awhile-

Marxism will bring health to the sick (1954).  She painted herself wearing a leather corset and a Tehuana skirt which represents her disabilities (she had polio and was later in an accident and could not walk), cultural heritage and political beliefs.  Here she seems cured and liberated as she casts off her crutches and holds a red book-

She used the mirror to paint her self portraits.  The brushes and paints are as she left them-

Her kitchen-

Her ashes are in the urn that is on her dresser in her bedroom-

It wa a pretty weird place actually!  Was she so famous because she was married to Rivera?  Because she was crazy?  She only had one exhibition ever in Mexico in 1953.  Go figure.

After, I caught a bus to the metro and headed over to Arena Mexico for Lucha Libra-

The day just kept getting weirder actually.  Lucha Libre is so fake yet the spectators are right into it - hollering for their team, swearing at the opposition and wearing masks in support of their team.  It's a crazy place-

Women wearing not much dance around and announce the rounds-

Most of the fights were teams of men, usually 3 men/team.  They wear spandex pants or shorts or skimpy Speedo type underwear. Some wear masks and lots have tattoos and long hair.  My camera was confiscated at the entrance yet cell phones are allowed.  Mine doesn't take very good pictures-

They can't  punch but they do a lot of slapping.  They kick but often they pull back so they don't really hurt the opposition.  They use the ropes a lot to fling themselves at the around.  They throw each other out of the ring and then get up onto the top rope and jump or dive onto their enemy.  They are very athletic and the Mexicans absolutely love it-

There was only one fight of women-

Fans supporting their heroes-

The last fight was the longest.  There were only 2 men fighting and I can't count how many times the referee was down on the floor pounding one, two and at the last moment the guy on the bottom sat up or moved.  The crowd went crazy!  After the fight, the winner removed his mask to many oohs and ahs.  

I took the metro home and crawled exhausted into bed at midnight.  It was a long but good day!  Looking forward to visiting Teotihuacan tomorrow.  

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