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Clothing women: The female body in pre- and post-contact aztec art

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines representations of women and goddesses created by indigenous artists in the early colonial period, and shows that some Nahua artists either obscured nudity in their works or clothed women and goddesses who were traditionally seen uncovered. By comparing these representations to their pre-conquest counterparts and then placing them in their colonial contexts, the author argues that a new Spanish view of the female body as a source of evil and temptation was picked up by some artists and melded into their pictorial writings. As the Mexican people, future leaders of the Aztec empire, migrated to the Valley of Mexico, forces from more established cities attacked them, taking their tribal leader(s) and his daughter(s) captive and sacrificing them. The Cihuateteo are one facet of a larger group of goddesses who share iconographic features relating them to motherhood, fertility, the earth, and death.

Keywords: Aztec empire; Cihuateteo; clothed women; female body; Nahua artists



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