By Rex Koontz
El Tajín, an old Mesoamerican capital in Veracruz, Mexico, has lengthy been favourite for its attractive pyramids and ballcourts embellished with vast sculptural courses. but the city's singularity because the merely heart within the sector with this kind of wealth of sculpture and tremendous 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 development Columns complex—and investigates the meanings in their sculpture and the way those meanings may were skilled via particular audiences. Koontz unearths that the iconography of El Tajín unearths a lot approximately how motifs and elite rites transforming into out of the vintage interval have been transmitted to later Mesoamerican peoples because the cultures headquartered on Teotihuacan and the Maya turned the myriad city-states of the Early Postclassic period.
By reexamining the iconography of sculptures lengthy within the checklist, in addition to introducing very important new monuments and contexts, Lightning Gods and Feathered Serpents basically demonstrates El Tajín's a variety of iconographic connections with different parts of Mesoamerica, whereas additionally exploring its roots in an indigenous Gulf lowlands tradition whose outlines are just now rising. whilst, it starts to discover a mostly neglected local inventive tradition of which Tajín is the crowning fulfillment.
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Additional info for Lightning Gods and Feathered Serpents: The Public Sculpture of El Tajín
18). 23 This iconographic pattern suggests that the center of this court was conceived as a source of water specifically associated with skeletal figures, and thus analogous to the Mexica Skull Place. F i g ur e 2 . 1 8 . Detail of skeletal figure at the South Ballcourt. Figure is oriented toward the center of the court. Drawing by the author. Conclusions The analogies between the South Ballcourt and the Place of the Skull at the Coatépec ballcourt point up how similar fundamental symbolisms structured the two courts.
Above the base, the feathered tails of intertwined serpents surround the pole and then divide, framing the circular motif in the center of the composition. As noted above, this circular motif consists of a petaled fringe surrounding an actual hole that was carved through the entire width of the stone. The necks of the serpents intertwine above the hole, ending in a feathered serpent head on either side of the composition. An arrangement of feathers surmounts the entire motif. The same petaled, circular motif that sur- F i g ur e 2 .
In addition to this iconographic relationship, there are complex and fundamental relations between the Central Plaza and South Ballcourt programs. As I will argue below, the South Ballcourt program relates directly to the rites of legitimacy, war, and statecraft outlined for the Central Plaza, continuing and amplifying themes of warfare, ballcourt sacrifice, and the legitimate transfer of power. F i g ur e 3 . 1 . Northwest panel of South Ballcourt, El Tajín. After Kampen 1972: Fig. 22. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.