Piedra del Sol


Museo Nacional de Antropología, México

Museo Nacional de Antropología, México

There is no doubt that the Sun, miscalled also “Aztec Calendar”, is one of the most representative pieces of our museum. It was discovered in December, 1790 during the works of leveling of the Plaza Mayor of the city. It symbolizes the conception of the time for the Mexicas; nevertheless, it did not work as a calendar. To the center there is the image of the Fifth Sun, Nahui Olin or Four Movement and the face of Tonatiuh, god of the Sun, with the particular representation of having only the lower half of the face fleshless and the upper part normal, which symbolizes life and death.In turn, in each of the corners of the sign Olin there is the name of the four suns: Nahui Océlotl (Four Jaguar), Nahui Atl (Four Waters), Nahui Quiáhuitl (Four Rain) and Nahui Ehécatl (Four Wind). According to the Nahua mythology of the Postclassic period, the world, as we know it nowadays, has gone through different eras of creation and destruction. They related each of them with a particular sun. In one of the versions of the myth, the last era was destroyed by a great flood. The Fifth Sun, which according to the Nahuas is the current times, will end due to strong earthquakes.The rest of the iconographic elements that decorate the Sun Stone are distributed in concentric circles. Around the center there are the 20 signs of the days, which combined with the 13 numerals formed a cycle of 260 days also called Tonalpohualli. Then there are solar signs and finally the representation of two serpents of fire that are in the bottom part of the image.Mtro. Hugo García CapistránThe Piedra del Sol has been interpreted as temalcatl or a circular platform, on top of which were performed a mexica ritual combat called “sacrificio gladiatorio” (gladiatorial sacrifice), in which the warriors who died fed the sun with their blood. Le sculpture was originally located horizontally on th floor.The rock which origins this monolith, goes back to year zero, when it was spewed in lava form by the Xitle volcano. It comes from the south of the Cuenca de Mexico, maybe from San Angel or the south of Xochimilco.It was carved on the mexica splendor era, around the year 1512, and the images on its surface refer to that town’s worldview. It weights 24.5 tons and its diameter size is 3.6 meters.Since its creation, the sculpture has been moved seven times still its arrival to its current location, el Museo Nacional de Antropologia (National Anthropology museum), in Mexico City.It is believed that the stone was towed between 12 and 22 kilometers all the way to the interior of the Recinto Sagrado de Tenochtitlan (Tenochtitlan Sacred Enclosure) helped with ropes, levers and rollers and with the work of hundreds of men.As a result of the destruction of the Mexico-Tenochtitlan city on 1521, the Spanish conquers threw the sculpture away, facing up, at the Plaza Mayor (nowadays Zocalo) to the north of the royal irrigation ditch and to the west of the viceregal palace. The stone stayed there for several decades.At the second half of the XVI century, the archbishop Alonso de Montufar, ordered to turn it face-down and to bury it because, according to him, the stone brought around a bad influence over the inhabitants. In the other words, they tried to disappear every trace of which, they considered, devil’s work.On December 17th 1790, after 200 years buried, was found fortuitously under the floor of the Plaza de la Constitucion, when water conduction and stone pavement works were made.The stone was facing down and buried 41.8 cm depth 66.8 meters to the west of the Real Palacio’s (Royal Palace) second door. Workers took it out of the mud and left it aside of the excavation.Months after its discovery, the Piedra del Sol was installed on vertical position at the west tower of the Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral), directed to the west facing the current Cinco de Mayo street, at the Historic Center of Mexico City. The native sculpture was left at open sight.At the palace, it was admired by many and battered by others. It is said that who passed by the sculpture threw garbage at it and US soldiers used it s a practice target during the 1847 occupancy. It remained for almost 100 years exposed to the open air, suffering weather inclemency and people abuses.On 1885 was transferred for its protection to the Galeria de Monolitos del Museo Nacional (Monolith Gallery of the National Museum), in Mexico City. The inhabitants of Mexico City sadly received the notice of the decision to lock away the sculpture. There is a pamphlet of those days, which reproduces a poem in which the sculpture moans sadly because its imminent transfer.The maneuver, to transfer the stone to Moneda Street, right next to the Zocalo, was performed with a platform, beams and pulleys and helped with five workers and 20 soldiers, who worked for 15 days.The monolith’s journey ended five centuries after it was removed from the Recinto Sagrado de Tenochtitlan (Tenochtitlan Sacred Enclosure), and on 1964 was transferred to the Bosque de Chapultepec (Chapultepec Forest), over a platform with 16 wheels.To the sound of “Las Golondrinas” it left forever the building on Moneda Street and pass in front of the cathedral, and slowly circulate by the Alameda and through the Paseo de la Reforma. In one hour and 15 minutes, the sculpture arrived to the Museo Nacional de Antropologia (Anthropology National Museum).FindingNow let's talk about the Sun Stone, commonly known as the Aztec Calendar, it is a very large stone, measuring about 3.5 meters in diameter and weighs about 25 tons, it was found in the year 1790 under the floor of the Constitution Square in front of the National Palace.Iconography 1In the Sun Stone are reflected some of the fundamentals of the Mexica worldview. So, in the center of this monument there is a face that corresponds to the sun god called Tonatiuh. The next circle that encloses this face is a glyph known as Olin which means movement and represents the four cosmological eras or suns that were created before the fifth era of the fifth sun corresponding to the era of the Mexicas and ending in one day 4 by tremors.Iconography 2The ring surrounding the circle where the cosmological eras are has twenty characters that represent Concepts are also represented like movement or weather conditions like rain. The days of the calendar. After this circle of days, there is another where we see several symbols that are represented by five points that have been identified in different ways according to each investigator.Iconography 3The last ring, which is engulfing all others, is formed by the bodies of two giant snakes, at the top the two tails of these fantastic animals meet with calendar glyph 13 reed These fantastic animals were called Xiuhcoatl or snake of fire and according to mythology they were the animals that carried the sun on its journey from sunrise to sunset.ExhibitionWhen the stone was found, the Revillagigedo Viceroy asked to put it in a visible place where people could admire the monument, then the stone was placed in the west tower of the Metropolitan Cathedral where remained for several years. In 1885 it was transferred to the National Museum in the current Moneda Street in the historic center of Mexico City in 1964 was transferred to the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Chapultepec where it was placed in the site of honor of the Mexica room.http://www.inah.gob.mx/images/stories/Multimedia/Interactivos/monolitos/

Show lessRead more


  • Title: Piedra del Sol
  • Creator: unknown
  • Date Created: 1250/1500
  • Location: México
  • Physical Dimensions: h980 x d3580 cm (complete)
  • Period: Posclásico Tardío (ca 1500 d.C.)
  • Centro Histórico, Ciudad de México: Mexica
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia., INAH. Proyecto de Digitalización de las Colecciones Arqueológicas del Museo Nacional de Antropología. CONACULTA-CANON-MNA.
  • External Link: http://www.inah.gob.mx/images/stories/Multimedia/Interactivos/monolitos/
  • Medium: Basalto de Olivino


Translate with Google