Mural: The Totonac Civilization or the Jaguar People in Veracruz, Palacio Nacional de Mexico

Diego Rivera

The setting: El Tajín

See these pages for more information on the archaeological site of El Tajín. The central foreground event depicts either an Aztec chieftan collecting tribute (official guide) or "merchants on an expedition to exchange products, including fruit, crafts, wild game and clothing" (Rodríguez 79).

Left: one of the many ballcourts at El Tajín; center: Pyramid of the Niches with the flying man game

See this page for more information and views of the Pyramid of the Niches and this page for views of the South Ball Court and this page for views of other ball courts at the site. The ritual game "Volador" or Flyer featured dancers with rope tied to their ankles swinging from a tall pole and circling it as they gradually rotated to the ground.

The central group

Rodríguez explains that "the figure who leads the Totonac 'delegation' [to the right] wears a belt from which projects a prominent, curved blade which evokes the stone yokes and palmate stones of Totonac and Huastec sculpture" while the leader on the left of the Mexica group "is dressed as Yacatecuhtli, patron god of the pochteca" (79). The image to the left (below) shows the statue carried by this group of that god in a similar costume.

The grisailles below the polychrome panel

The Indians are shown in their everyday life, on the left cultivating pineapple and tamarind, and in the center weaving with a back-strap loom.

A sculptor

Rodríguez explains that the sculptor depicted in this grisaille has designed the famous Aparicio Slab of Veracruz which depicts streams of blood in the form of serpents emanating from the neck of the decapitated ballplayer. A stone yoke and palmate stones are around the sculptor (79).

Continue to page 8: Rubber.

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.

Go to the Mexico 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.