By Rex Koontz
El Tajín, an historic Mesoamerican capital in Veracruz, Mexico, has lengthy been favorite for its beautiful pyramids and ballcourts embellished with huge sculptural courses. but the city's singularity because the simply heart within the sector with any such wealth of sculpture and fantastic structure has hindered makes an attempt to put it extra firmly within the context of Mesoamerican historical past. In Lightning Gods and Feathered Serpents, Rex Koontz undertakes the 1st wide remedy of El Tajín's iconography in over thirty years, permitting us to view its imagery within the broader Mesoamerican context of emerging capitals and new elites in the course of a interval of basic historic transformations.
Koontz specializes in 3 significant architectural features—the Pyramid of the Niches/Central Plaza ensemble, the South Ballcourt, and the Mound of the construction Columns complex—and investigates the meanings in their sculpture and the way those meanings could were skilled by means of particular audiences. Koontz unearths that the iconography of El Tajín unearths a lot approximately how motifs and elite rites turning out to be out of the vintage interval have been transmitted to later Mesoamerican peoples because the cultures headquartered on Teotihuacan and the Maya grew to become the myriad city-states of the Early Postclassic period.
By reexamining the iconography of sculptures lengthy within the list, in addition to introducing vital new monuments and contexts, Lightning Gods and Feathered Serpents sincerely demonstrates El Tajín's various iconographic connections with different parts of Mesoamerica, whereas additionally exploring its roots in an indigenous Gulf lowlands tradition whose outlines are just now rising. while, it starts off to discover a mostly overlooked local creative tradition of which Tajín is the crowning success.
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Additional resources for Lightning Gods and Feathered Serpents: The Public Sculpture of El Tajín
Thanks to the well at its center, this ballcourt was the source of water and the cause of abundance for the entire polity. If the Pyramid of the Niches is analogous to Snake Mountain, then the ballcourts that frame the structure should include themes of water and abundance. The North Ballcourt, a smaller one just to the north of Structure 4, has a small canal that connects it to the Pyramid of the Niches and, farther on, to one of the arroyos that define the center of the site, mirroring the description of the Snake Mountain ballcourt as a source of water.
There, too, it seems to have taken on specific regional characteristics. An important point of difference may be found in Teotihuacan’s interest in headdresses associated with the Feathered Serpent, while Classic Veracruz appears to have been more interested in The Pyramid of the Niches 27 standards associated with the cult. The iconography of standards is especially prevalent in the region around El Tajín. 15 This is not surprising, for both descriptions and illustrations of these standards throughout Mesoamerica indicate that most were made of largely perishable materials, with an emphasis on elaborate featherwork (Uriarte 2006).
5 Only the South Ballcourt and Ballcourt 30/31 (Fig. 6 These two courts are also the largest at the site, suggesting that both the form and size mark them as a special category of court. 7 That said, even these two clearly marked courts can be arranged in a hierarchy. While Ballcourt 30/31 is located in the Great Xicalcoliuhqui, far from the Central Plaza and 38 lightning gods and feathered serpents the major concentration of decorated monumental architecture, the South Ballcourt is adjacent to the Central Plaza and contains the most elaborate iconographical program of any court at Tajín.
Lightning Gods and Feathered Serpents: The Public Sculpture of El Tajín by Rex Koontz