The Dallas Museum of Art presents The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico, the first large-scale exploration of the ancient kingdoms of southern Mexico and their patron deity, Quetzalcoatl, an incarnation of the spirit force of wind and rain that combined the attributes of a serpent with those of the quetzal bird, thus the name “Plumed Serpent.” On view from July 29 through November 25, 2012, this groundbreaking exhibition features 150 objects—including painted codices, turquoise mosaics, gold, and textiles—loaned from museums and private collections in Mexico, Europe, and the United States. These rare artworks trace the development of an extensive trade network that resulted in a period of international entrepreneurship and innovation that spread across ancient Mexico, the American Southwest, and Central America during the Postclassic (AD 900–1521) and early colonial periods.
The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico focuses on an era of cultural innovation in Mesoamerica. Trade networks, closely linked to the deity Quetzalcoatl, fostered the exchange of both goods and ideas across vast distances. These southern Mexican kingdoms, which recognized Quetzalcoatl as their founder and patron, became, and continue to be, the Children of the Plumed Serpent.
The Codex Zouche-Nuttall is one of a small number of known Mexican codices (illustrated screenfold manuscript books) dating to pre-Hispanic times, it is made of deer skin and comprises forty-seven leaves. One side of the document relates the history of important centers in the Mixtec region, while the other, starting at the opposite end, records the genealogy, marriages, and political and military feats of the Mixtec ruler Eight Deer Jaguar-Claw. The Codex Zouche-Nuttall, which was first published in 1902, is one of the few Mesoamerican pictorial documents to have escaped destruction.
The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and co-curated by LACMA curators the late Dr. Virginia Fields and Dr. Victoria Lyall, together with guest curator Dr. John Pohl, Adjunct Professor, Department of Art History at UCLA. Roslyn A. Walker, Senior Curator of the Arts of Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific and The Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art at the Dallas Museum of Art, is the curator of the Dallas presentation.
The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico was made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities. It was supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.