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Last Aztec Ruler at the British Museum

29 September 2009 No Comment

Moctezuma: Aztec RulerMoctezuma: Aztec Ruler is an exhibition that opened only last week at the British Museum and it has already been reviewed by the British press as a blockbuster.

The exhibition, which runs until January 2010, explores the Aztec civilization through the role of its last elected ruler: Moctezuma II, who reigned from 1502 until the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1520AD.

Moctezuma was considered part-deity, chief army commander, commissioner of the arts, orator and had none less than 19 kids. While his life was indeed complex and semi-mythical, he became the consolidator of the Aztec Empire which stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific, and was centered on Tenochtitlán – a spectacular city probably larger than any western European capital of the time.

For those who know little about the history of Mexico, this exhibition is truly fascinating. It depicts rare and precious objects of Aztec craftsmanship, including works commissioned by Moctezuma himself.

During the period that the exhibition will be on display, visitors to the British Museum can also enjoy a full program of events consisting of lectures, workshops, documentaries, debates, and meals, all around the theme of Moctezuma and Mexico.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • A superb turquoise mosaic mask
  • The imposing stone monument known as the Teocalli of Sacred Warfare
  • Gold work by artisans of the Aztec court
  • Oil paintings on wooden panels with inlaid Mother of Pearl (Enconchados)
  • Some idealized European portraits of Moctezuma
  • Colonial Codices

The Aztec Empire might have disappeared many centuries ago, and yet, for the next four months, in London, Moctezuma will reign.

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