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.

Detail view:

  1. carolinehiggs

    I love the story behind this piece which fits perfectly with your first two. Beautifully stitched but I am worried that you are having to resort to using the family’s clothing and sheets, I hope they are understanding!

  2. I agree with Caro ! it is time for you to find your fabrics or you will be in trouble with your family … The story behing the quilt is very interesting, thank you for sharing it. And your piece of work very well balanced and in harmony with the others. Bravo !

  3. Thank you for sharing the interesting story behind this quilt. It is beautifully executed, I am sure that you find great satisfaction in dealing with your country’s history in this way.

  4. Indeed an interesting story. It’s amazing how you create such beautiful quilts without your fabrics. I love how the serpent represents the letter in each quilt. Very well done, Sonia.

  5. joanbrailsford

    Wonderful depiction of such an intersting and historic subject. Yout attention to detail is beautiful and the piece is certainly very striking. I hope that you still have some bed sheets left in your house!

  6. Again I am in awe how you just created with some leftover pieces such a beautiful Mayan quilt again. Another wonderful addition to your series. I love it.

  7. Maryte Collard

    Thank you for the story! Knowing the story all design elements fall in place.

  8. A power quilt depicting the history of the Aztec. The design of “C” is amazing.

  9. With every reveal I can’t wait for the next dragon you come up with 🙂 Love your series!

  10. How nice to hear the story behind your design. And what good to see, that bedsheets and dresses can give such a result. Again a very nice piece Sonia, with great eye for detail, love it!

  11. I like this C-shaped dragon. The colours here are lovely and the history was fascinating to read.

  12. I love the detailed story of the calendar that you have included. Like the others, I wonder and worry about your family “donating” their personal fabrics for your quilts! The jungle is nicely portrayed and is an important part of the history. Someday I hope to visit Mexico City and its Museum of Anthropology to see this striking piece of Aztec history in person.

  13. studiociboulette

    Beautiful Sonia. I love your creative integration of all the elements of our mexican culture. Beautiful.

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