Words of Maggs



February 2016

Relief Block with Coat of Arms of Cholula – OPTICC 4




This piece of art is important and representative of this time period because it represents what looks like a stone pyramid, Cholollan, Tollan and a catholic bell which are all important symbols of what happened in Mesoamerica when the Spanish took over.

Overview: The visual is a stone carving with traces of stucco. Its divided into four quadrants. Starting with the top left going clockwise is a simple stone pyramid with maybe something at the top but it’s hard to see. Going down there is a tower, possible the top of an entrance to something or a pyramid with the name, “Cholollan” on it. To the right of this is another interesting shape with patterns. It could maybe be a ship or trying to represent a building. Inside the word, “Tollan” is carved. Lastly going up is a bell with a cross on it. Over all its simple looking with dark grey stone. Most indentions are clearly visible.

Parts: Starting on the top left quadrant there is a pyramid that seems to be made out of stone. Each block looks to be trying to be the same size. Nothing is sticking out except for maybe something at the top to represent that its the top of something significant. There is nothing in the sky or in the background meaning they just wanted us to focus on the pyramid being shown. Going down there is an “s” looking symbol in a block on top of a longer base. In between the “s” symbol and the word are little bumps going across, probably of decoration. There is a word in call caps that spells out, “Cholollan”. The letters are carved deep and have details in the “lollan” portion. The first “L” and “O” have lines across them. The rest of the Ls have exaggerated beginnings and endings as do the “A” and “N”. Going to the right is another large symbol with a word inside. It’s a large and wide “U” looks shape with long and short pegs at the top. The long pegs are of course sticking out more. Under these are the same bumps as in the other portion, with exactly the same number of them. This Time the word is “Tollan” in all caps with again exaggerated beginnings and endings to the letters. Lastly is the top right quadrant. This simply has another square outline, mushroom looking border with a bell inside. The bell has a think christian cross in it. Like the letters the cross seems to have exaggerated beginnings and endings.

Title: The title of this art is, “Relief Block with Coat of Arms of Cholula.” It tells us that it is a relief block which is now used with ink but back then probably used with carving stone or maybe molding clay as well. “Coat of Arms of Cholula” tells us that this is a distinctive heraldic bearing or shield of Cholula. Cholula is not only a hot sauce but was also a major center contemporaneous with Teotihuacan and seems to have avoided, at least partially, that city’s fate of violent destruction at the end of the Mesoamerican Classic period.

Interpretation: During this time a Spanish man, Cortes led a conquest on Tenochtitlán and other places in Mexico spreading disease and causing mayhem. The front of this block, divided into quadrants, features four pictures. In the lower section are the Aztec names for what seem to be the towns of Cholollan and Tollan. Cholollan in Aztec times was called tlachihualtepetl, meaning “hand-made hill,” a reference to the ancient man-made pyramid at the site. The identifying glyph is a mound with a trumpet inscribed on it. The picture, Tollan, meaning “place of the reeds,” is a “lake” with stylized reeds growing from it. It is possible that the two upper symbols represent early colonial versions of the place names. Cholollan as in the hill with a cross atop standing for the church the Spaniards built on the pyramid, and Tollan as a bell tower incised with a small cross on the bell. So the bottom could be the names of the top cities, which are placed in the Aztec empire.

Context: At this time in history Columbus found the already inhabited Americas. Later Cortes led a Spanish conquest on their land consisting of slaughters, rape and over control of Aztec cities. During his march through Mexico, he encountered a group of natives called the Tlaxcalans, who were enemies of the Aztecs. They became an important ally for Cortés during his siege of Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital city. Smallpox helped in the conquest of Tenochtitlán.

Conclusion: As a whole I think this piece is just representing different but also key parts or places of the Aztec empire. Its important to what we are studying because the Spanish conquest had a major affect on the people, land and future of Mesoamerica. Through this piece we are able to see what they wanted to remember or what they thought was important to their empire. The Aztecs, like other Mesoamerican peoples before them, devised a form of writing to record important events and other aspects of their culture. We are able to learn what it was like through pieces like this one. Over all this is an Aztec stone sculpture that is divided into different parts representing four different places or maybe just two with the names on the bottom and a symbol to represent it on the top.

Malinche Pinche

Malinche was a girl who was forced into a lifestyle of a slave and later on a translator. She didn’t have a say in whether or not she could be a translator for Cortes but she did have a choice to cooperate. Malinche turned into a traitor when she realized she could stop the killing and enslavement of the Aztecs but did not. A traitor is, “A person who betrays a friend, country, principle, etc.”

Cortes decided to move on and slaughter the inhabitants of Cholula, Malinche knew his plans and on pg. 92 it was told, “Malinalli wished she could have relied on the lightness of butterflies that migrated on time, flown through the high skies, far above the clouds, where she would not have to hear the weeping and lamenting, where you could not distinguish the mutilated corpses, the rivers of blood, the smell of death.”  This is where she starts to realize what Cortes is doing and starts connecting the pieces that she is part of his conquest. His conquest which consisted of killing and suffering. Im sure this is something she knows is wrong and the fact that it should not be happening.

Later in the book she has a nightmare about the massacre of the Great Temple. In her dream and after she awakens she analyzes what it means. On page 137 it’s described as, “Malinalli’s heartbeat grew faster as sarrow ran through her veins. To calm herself, she closed her eyes and tried to think of nothing. She did not want to see the sign of calamity.”  They key word here is “sorrow” and the key phrase is“tried to think of nothing”. Both of these have a direct correlation with emotion. Sorrow is more of a feeling caused by deep distress. When you try to think of nothing it’s usually because you don’t want to think of something. This something is usually something agonizing or distressful. Unconsciously in her mind and in her heart she recognized how much pain and agony actually went on in this event. At this point she knows that Cortes is uncaring and brutal to innocent people.

Reading this text I was actually in awe of how supportive some evidence was to categorizes Malinche as a traitor. She clearly states the fact that she is one of the causes of so much destruction and pain. “The tongue was the cause of everything. Malinalli had destroyed Montezuma’s empire with her tongue. Thanks to her words, Cortes had made allies that ensured his conquest.” (pg. 158).  If this doesn’t say it than I don’t know what does. She was the tongue. She was the make it or break it factor in this portion of history. She understood that she was a necessary factor to what happened to the people in the Americas.

The definition of betrayal is, “To expose to danger by treacherously giving information to an enemy.” This was her whole purpose. Even at time not giving but enabling Cortes and the spanish to have it. Betrayal is in the definition of traitor and betray is exactly what she did. She was forced to be someone and something she didn’t want to be. She was forced to be a part of something gruesome and destructful but she didn’t have to force others to be a part of it.

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