One of the many things that delighted me about Mexico was the colours. This blue made my heart beat a little faster…it was everywhere in the Airbnb in Condesa that was our home for 2 weeks in Mexico City
Every colour was valuable for the Aztecs, but there were ten or so that had a special meaning: probably the most important was blue-turquoise, because turquoise and jade stones were the equivalent of gold and silver for the Spanish. These metals were known and appreciated by the Aztecs – they linked them to the light and radiance of the Sun and the Moon – but green jade represented fertile vegetation, and blue turquoise mirrored the water of rivers, lakes and seas, and the daytime sky.
In Náhuatl (the Aztec language still spoken by some 8-10 million Mexicans) the word for turquoise is ‘xihuitl’ and it’s also used to refer to a herb, comets, the year, and to anything precious. That’s why in the codices the artists often played on the meaning of words: for example, when writing a year sign it was often painted blue or accompanied by a herb leaf; and rulers bore a type of pointed crown (diadem) made of turquoise mosaic, to represent one of the ruler’s titles – ‘Lord of Time or of the Year’ (the god of rulers was called ‘Xiuhtecuhtli’ or ‘Year Lord’ or ‘Lord Precious’).
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