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Culture Group:Teotihuacan , Central Mexico Title:Mural fragment with dancing bird-shaman Date:c. 400 – 550 CE Medium:Fresco Culture: Teotihuacan, Central Mexico Dimensions:27 x 42 in. (68.6 x 106.7 cm) Credit Line:Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Schaeffer Accession number:1977.38.1 Label Copy: The Techinantitla apartment compound of Teotihuacan was decorated with elaborate scenes in fresco (paint applied to wet plaster). The seven-foot-high walls were often divided into two sections. In some rooms, both sections of the wall were covered with repetitive motifs, while in other rooms these motifs were only on the lower wall, with narrative scenes on the upper wall. The imagery ranged from small vignettes of animal warriors to Rain God priests offering sacrificed human hearts on obsidian blades to The Great Goddess. They also included large depictions of the goddess wringing water from her clothes and providing water, shells, maize, and flowering plants to the people. This mural fragment depicts a shaman-priest transforming into a supernatural bird with aspects of a quetzal bird (green feathers), an owl (eyes and crest), and an eagle (beak). Footprints surround the figure as he dances in ecstatic communication with the spirit realm. The designs coming from his beak represent singing and chanting. This bird-shaman has danced so ecstatically that his tail feathers have broken free of the painted borders that represent his dance platform. The Nasher fragment was likely one of twenty in a single room with this repeating scene.


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