Sonia Ruiz – C
Letter C for Calendar
The Aztec Calendar Stone is the most famous sculpture made in the Americas. We do not know where the sculpture was originally placed in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, but presumably it was situated close to the Templo Mayor. It was carved from solidified lava in the late 15th century and was found buried under the zocalo, or central square of Mexico City. It weighs about 24 tons, and is around 3 feet thick and measures almost 12 feet across. We don’t know just how it was used, a sacrificial altar? Sundial? Calendar? But we do know that it predicts solar eclipses. Its design is rich with animals and other symbols, all part of a complex cosmetology. For example, the deity Tonatuih sits in the middle, holding a human heart in each hand, his outstretched tongue is a blade for ritual sacrifice, a common Aztec practice.
The Stone depicts not one but two calendar systems, each totally different yet interlinked. Each day has two identities, one per system. The 365 day Xiuhpohuali describes the days and rituals by season, so it’s an agricultural year. The 260 day Tonalpohualli describes each day in terms of the Aztec gods, so it’s a sacred year. The way the two calendars interact, no date could be repeated for 18,980 days or 52 years. The Aztecs believed that when the solar and sacred cycles fell on the same day, the universe was in great danger. So every 52 years, they performed an elaborate ceremony of human sacrifice and fire to ensure everyone’s survival. Well, everyone except the sacrificial victims.
The Aztec Calendar, also called the Sun Stone or the Cuauhxicalli Eagle Bowl is displayed in Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology, where it remains to this day.
I hand dyed a small piece of a bed sheet for the background, I digitally printed the calendar onto fabric, sketched my letter C in serpent form from bits of my grand nieces’ summer dress, sketched a pyramid and shaded both them with ínstense pencils, used the confetti technique using bits of different yarns and free motioned over the jungle. I used monofilament thread on the Calendar Stone trying to create depth and I tried echoing the serpent the best I could without a walking foot.