Archaeologists discover fresco of Aztec god of alcohol in Mexican monastery

(ORDO NEWS) — A pre-Columbian wall painting discovered in a monastery in Tepozlan may shed light on the relationship between Mexico’s natives and the Catholic Church, which sought to control cultural expression after the Spanish conquest in the 16th century.

This was announced by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). Archaeologists have discovered a wall painting hidden under several layers of whitewash in the corner chapel of Ex Convento de la Natividad (former monastery of the Nativity).

The fresco is a red circle about one meter in size. Within the circle are several pre-Columbian images, including an axe, a chimalli or shield, a sprig of flowers, and a feathered headdress or “penajo” traditionally worn by members of the Aztec aristocracy.

Due to the fragility of feathers and other materials, very few penajos and very few wall images of them have been found.

The most famous example, the Moctezuma headdress, is currently in the collection of the Welt Museum, an ethnographic museum in Vienna, Austria.

The find in the monastery surprised the restorers, who were instructed to repair the main structure of the church.

The corner chapels are known as “capillas posas” (petal chapels), and although their significance has not yet been fully established, experts believe they were built to hide the priest during worship, in order to hasten the mass conversion of the local population to Christianity.

Local communities still make an annual pilgrimage to the nearby mountain, which houses the archaeological site of El Teposteco, including the temple of Tepostecatl, the Aztec god of the alcoholic drink pulque, worshiped by the Nahuatl-speaking Aztecs.

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