Motecuhzoma’s ‘Feathered Crown,’ One-Step Closer to Returning to Mexico

Austria formalized an agreement with Mexico on Tuesday that will allow for the return of a feathered headdress believed to have once belonged to Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin.

The headdress, which is often referred to as a feathered crown, is commonly known by most Mexicans as “el penacho de Moctezuma,” or “Moctezuma’s feathered headdress.”

Austria’s Ministry of Culture and Education made clear that the headdress’ return to Mexico is considered a “loan,” not the repatriation of one of Mexico’s most important cultural symbols.

The headdress is believed to have been taken to Spain by Hernán Cortés in 1519. Reports say Archduke Ferdinand of Austria obtained it in 1590. It’s been housed at the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna since the early 1800’s.

Much of the credit for leading the efforts to return the headdress to Mexico goes to Xokonoschtletl Gómora. See video of him below.

The majority of Mexicans, included those who responded to a question we posted on Twitter and Facebook, support having the headdress stay in Mexico.

Video: Xokonoschtletl Gómora - Apoya el Regreso de la Corona de Moctezuma

Stay Connected: Twitter | Facebook

In Mexico's National Museum of Anthropology, codex exhibit rethinks Moctezuma's death

MEXICO CITY (AFP).- Mexico’s largest exhibit of Mesoamerican manuscripts features a codex made of fig tree bark suggesting that Aztec emperor Moctezuma was slain by a Spanish conquistador with a sword.

The piece is among 44 codices made by several pre-Columbian populations – including the Mayas, Purepechas and Zapotecos – on display at the National Museum of Anthropology.

Some of the pieces in the temporary exhibit, titled “Codices of Mexico: Memories and Wisdom,” are as large as 10 square meters (108 square feet). One cost the government $1 million to buy from the Bible Society in Britain. “It’s the biggest codex exhibit (in Mexico),” curator Baltazar Brito, director of the National Anthropology and History Library, told AFP. Read more.

Unknown Artist

The Meeting of Cortés and Montezuma

from the Conquest of Mexico series

Mexico, second half of seventeenth century

Oil on canvas

Rare Book and Special Collections Division

Painted in the latter half of the seventeenth century in Mexico by unknown artists, the eight paintings in the Conquest of Mexico series depict the encounter of Spanish and Aztec cultures and the ultimate victory of the Spanish over the native peoples. All eight paintings will be on display in the permanent Kislak gallery. The painting displayed, the third in the series, depicts Hernando Cortés (1485-1547) meeting the Mexica emperor Montezuma (1480?-1520). The landscape and treatment of indigenous dress serve to romanticize the meeting of these two powerful leaders. Cortés approaches Montezuma with his arms opened in a gesture of embrace, which the Mexica leader respectfully rejects by raising his left hand. Montezuma’s idealized body, dignified stance, full beard, and the golden sword in his right hand owe more to European ideas about the appropriate bearing of a king than to ethnographic accuracy. Furthermore, while the feather skirts shown on Montezuma and his court were part of the standard European iconography for depicting “Indians,” skirts like this are not known to have been worn anywhere in the Americas.

[x] [x] [x]



“The Great Montezuma was about forty years old, of good height, well proportioned, spare and slight, and not very dark, though of the usual Indian complexion. He did not wear his hair long but just over his ears, and he had a short black beard, well-shaped and thin. His face was rather long and cheerful, he had fine eyes, and in his appearance and manner could express geniality or, when necessary, a serious composure. He was very neat and clean, and took a bath every afternoon.” (Díaz del Castillo 1568/1963)

29 de junio de 1520 :

“…Motecuhzoma viendo la determinación de sus vasallos, se puso en una parte alta, y reprendióles; los cuales le trataron mal de palabras llamándole de cobarde, y enemigo de su patria, y aun amenazándole con las armas, en donde dicen que uno de ellos le tiró una pedrada de lo cual murió, aunque dicen sus vasallos que los mismos españoles lo mataron, y por las partes bajas le metieron la espada…”  Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxóchitl