stone of the fifth sun

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On this #MuseumMonday we’re taking a look at the inlay representing the face of the Aztec Sun Stone. Visitors who enter through the Weston Pavilion Entrance (Columbus Ave. and 79th St.) are greeted by this beautiful piece set in the floor. The Aztec Sun Stone was a centerpiece of the Hall of the Sun in the original Hayden Planetarium, built in 1935 (pictured above). 

The original stone is a 25-ton monolith, which represents the fifth sun, or age, which began with the accession of King Itzcoatl (1427-1440). It is on view at the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, and a full-size cast stands in the Hall of Mexico and Central America.

The central image depicts Tonatiuh, the Aztec sun god and principal deity during the fifth sun, and Aztec cycle that relates to time and politics. Four icons - jaguar, wind, rain, and water - represent the four previous suns, or ages, when the world was repeatedly created and destroyed. The twenty central signs belong to the 13 cycles in the 260-day Aztec ritual calendar. Two fire serpents encircle the mosaic, their heads face each other at the bottom and tails meet at the top.

Learn more about the Inlay Aztec Sun Stone.

Archival image: AMNH/327132