Sonia Ruiz – A
Letter A for Aztec and Aqueducts
The word ‘Aztec’ conjures up images of warfare and sacrifice gore, yet beauty and pleasure figured powerfully in Aztec culture. Aztec rulers, like great lords everywhere, had well indulged tastes in amusement and luxury, and invested substantial wealth in leisure facilities.
I chose to highlight the summer imperial gardens of Texcotzingo. A place for the upper hierarchy of the Aztec empire to relax and indulge in the sensual pleasures of life, like a resort. The gardens and archaeological site are located around 20 miles North-East from central Mexico City. It was Texcoco’s royal retreat, a masterpiece which was designed and created by Nezahualcoyotl, the ruler of Texcoco in the 15 century.
The extensive gardens were once one of the biggest botanical showcase in the New World, with thousands of native plants on display. Nezahualcoyotl was reported to be a renowned engineer, poet, lawmaker, credited with many personal feats of engineering, from the wonders of his “summer palace” in Texcotzingo – a dry hill completely transformed by stone aqueducts carrying fresh water to nourish his huge botanical gardens, complex of palaces, baths, temples, and other wonders of engineering. It is considered to be one of the first extant botanical gardens in America.
The Aztecs built very sophisticated aqueducts that could fit their needs at any time. The main aqueduct ran 20 miles, it flowed in two channels, one being cleaned and maintained, and the other to keep a constant flow of water. It flowed into public fountains where it was then delivered in clay pots to the workers and civilians. Other water flowed past the city to a great palace with huge, tiered botanical gardens containing the most exotic flowers and medicinal plants in the area. This was the kings palace. The water flowed onto water pools where the water flow could be maintained by turning the water flow on and off. It then flowed around a large hill, pouring off rock cut waterfalls to enter the multi leveled gardens of the kings temple. The rest of the water poured into an almost perfectly rock cut circle called the Kings Bath, the king bathed twice daily in this luxury bath.
Techniques: Hand painted the sky from a piece of a bed sheet, sketched structures with Inktense pencil, acrylic paint for highlights, raw edge appliqué, my “A” serpent fabric is the same fabric from “S” (I carried the fabric with me from Mexico), confetti technique for the vegetation, embellished with burlap strands for the dry weeds at the bottom to give it a little more depth, free motion and thread sketching quilting.