Mural: The Huaxtec Civilization [or Maize], Palacio Nacional de Mexico

Diego Rivera

Cultivation and use of corn; the goddess of corn

The scene is presided over by Teocintle, tutelary spirit of corn. The background depicts the system of "chinampas" farming--fields in marshes or lakes or man-made islets for farming with furrow or canals between them. These canals carry the eye to the background with the dramatic snow-covered peak. The figure in the foreground right uses a "coa" which has a pointed end for sowing. On the left different corn dishes are made including atole, a drink made of corn meal gruel.

The importance of corn

The corn deity is richly dressed and holds double ears of corn in each hand. The multiple tasks of preparing corn are illustrated, including grinding corn on the age-old metate. See also Rivera's painting La Molendera (The Woman Grinder), 1924, for a similar figure.

A tinted grisaille with a pictogram for water

The word on the top border says "totopánitl" --a term referring to the corn stalk worn in ritual dances. The figures, Oxomoco and Cipactonal are the semi-divine couple who cast maize as a form of divination. Also attributed to them are the invention of the calendar, curing of illness, and the interpretation of dreams. Rodríguez says Rivera borrowed directly from the Codex Borbonicus for this representation.

Continue to page 10: Cocoa.

Works Consulted or Quoted:
Goldman, Shifra M. Dimensions of the Americas: Art and Social Change in Latin American and the United States. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1994.
Luis-Martín Lozano and Juan Rafael Coronel Rivera. Diego Rivera: The Complete Murals. Taschen, 2009.
Antonio Rodríguez. Diego Rivera: Mural Painting. Mexico City: Fondo Editorial de la Plástica Mexicana, 1988.
Official guide [pamphlet] at site.

Go to Rivera Murals Index.

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© 2010 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.