1720 Untitled [The Ancients’ Migration from their Home in the Mountains to Tenochtitlan]

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By: Giovanni Francesco Gemelli-Careri

Date: 1720 (circa)

Dimensions: 11.5 x 15.75 inches (29.2 cm x 40 cm)

This intriguing and scarce engraving depicts the Aztec nation migrating from their home in the mountains to found a new city in the center of a lake, as they’d been instructed by one of their priests. The priest claimed to have been visited by Huitzilopochtli, their great sun and war god, who told him that his people must “go and settle their abode in that part of the lake where they found an eagle perching upon a fig-tree, whose root was upon a rock. Having told this vision in the morning, they all went together in search of this sign given, and after some time spent, found a fig-tree growing out of a rock, and on it a most beautiful eagle, looking upon the sun, with her wings display'd… Upon this sign they all fell down to pay their adoration, and presently began to build their city, which they call’d Tenochtitlan, that is, fig-tree on a rock." The narrative is found in the fourth volume of an English translation of a travel anthology compiled in the early 18th century.

This somewhat mystical engraving depicts with exacting detail the trail used for the migration of the people and is lavishly illustrated and embellished by myriad miniature scenes of flora, fauna, physical and manmade features, and mythical creatures met along the way. It is a fascinating scene which merits closer inspection.

Condition: This hand colored engraving is in A condition. 

Inventory #11152

31 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60602 | T: 312-609-0016

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