of the Feathered Serpent, Painting by Christiane Clados,
Mask, Temple of the Feathered Serpent
though it was night, even though it was not day, even
though there was no light they gathered, the gods convened
there in Teotihuacán.
In the first century, Central Mexico saw the rise of the
powerful culture of Teotihuacán. The giant city of
Teotihuacán was the center of this culture, which
would dominate the political history of ancient Mexico for
the next 800 years. With an area of 30 square kilometers
and a population of 250,000 inhabitants, Teotihuacán
was the largest city of the period and one of the largest
cities in the world. The people of Teotihuacán built
monumental temples, streets, marketplaces and palaces and
decorated them with splendid relief, murals and ground paintings.
of the most important temples was the Temple of the Feathered
Serpent. Originally painted in bright colors this temple
was part of the ciudadela or citadel, a complex, which served
as dwellings and administration buildings for the lords
greatest art forms were architecture and mural paintings.
Facades of pyramids and interiors of palaces, temples, and
homes were frequently decorated with splendid frescoes.
The fragment shown here was part of a cycle painted on the
interior walls of an aristocratic palace. It shows a rain
priest walking or dancing in profile and wearing an elaborate
headdress and costume. His speech-scroll, adorned with seashells
and plants, indicates that he is praying for water and agricultural
prosperity, which were highly valued in his society.
To create the frescoes from which this fragment came, workmen
in Teotihuacán layered coats of ground lime or stucco
over the palace’s rough walls. The artist then mixed
and applied pigments to the wall while it was still wet.
The colors used were earth tones, such as hematite red and
ochre, as well as greens, blues, and whites. Once the composition
was painted or drawn and the painting almost dry, artists
would burnish the entire surface with a stone until smooth.
Mural Fragment, Tripod Vessel
with Fresco Technique, Art Institute of Chicago
murals constitute a primary source for understanding the
city's religion and social organization. Found throughout
the city on the walls of apartment compounds such as Tetitla.
In this mural, a priest prays for water and agricultural
prosperity, as shown by the curling speech symbols with
shells and flowers. Flowers and water are cast from one
hand, while the other holds an incense bag. He wears the
goggles that came to be associated with Tlaloc, the storm
Student Home Page
Teotihuacán: Place of the Gods: Lesson Plan (PDF File)
and War in Teotihuacán: The Temple of the Feathered