Yacapapalotl o Nariguera mariposa


Museo Nacional de Antropología, México

Museo Nacional de Antropología, México
Mexico,D.F., Mexico

Very few Mexica gold pieces escaped from being melted by the Spanish conquerors and from finishing forming part of the bars or quoits of the prized metal that were taken to the Old World. The pieces found in the excavations show a great mastery of the Mesoamerican people in goldsmithing techniques. This beautiful piece was found at the beginning of the 20th century in front of the Templo Mayor of Tenochtitlan; it was protected from the greed of the conquerors because it was part of one of the rich tributes that the Mexicas buried under the floors of squares and inside of temples and structures, thus remaining hidden and protected. This piece was made of rolled gold and worked using the embossing technique to represent a decoration in the shape of a stylized butterfly with the wings spread. The holes were probably used to hold this piece to some sacred image. It has been identified as the “butterfly nose ornament” (yacapapálotl), Xochiquétzal’s emblem, young goddess of the flowers, sensuality and patroness of the silversmiths, painters, sculptors and weavers of feathers. The butterfly, on its own, had different symbolic meanings in the pre-Hispanic Mexico, among which the representation of the souls of the fallen warriors stands out; therefore, Xochiquétzal is related to this concept since she was the first woman who died in the war. Arqlga. Bertina Olmedo Vera


  • Title: Yacapapalotl o Nariguera mariposa
  • Creator: unknown
  • Date Created: 1325/1500
  • Physical Location: México
  • Physical Dimensions: w77 x h77 x d10 cm (complete)
  • Period: Posclásico Tardío (1250-1521 d.C.)
  • Centro Histórico, Ciudad de México: Mexica
  • Type: Ornament
  • 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.mna.inah.gob.mx
  • Medium: Oro

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