Danza de la PlumaArtist(s)Carlos MéridaArtist NationalityGuatemalanObject Creation Datecirca 1937-1939Medium & Supportlithograph on paperDimensions
16 7/8 in x 12 1/2 in (42.86 cm x 31.75 cm)Credit LineMuseum PurchaseSubject matter
This is one of a series of ten prints that depict the traditional dances of México. Mérida was the co-founder of the dance school for the Secretariat of Education (Escuela de la Danza de la Secretaría de Educación Pública), which worked to preserve the native dances of the region. In addition to this set, at this time, he produced a number of series that cataloged the popular arts and industries of Mexico and his native Guatemala.
This print depicts the Danza de la Pluma, which is also sometimes called the "Dance of Conquest." It is practiced in the Oaxaca state in Southern Mexico. The dance has local Aztec and Zapotec origins and was created to transmit knowledge about the world. As well as being related to cosmology, this dance relates to the process of Spanish conquest in that it signifies the passage of time before and after the landing of the conquistadors. In this dance, there are two kinds of dancers: one representing the Spanish with Hernán Cortés as their leader, and the other known as "Mexica" lead by Moctexuma. The events that led to the conquring of the Mexica people by the Spanish is played out in the dance. It is important to note that this dance can last up to three days, with thirty-minute breaks between songs, and the songs integrate music, chanting and spoken word.Physical Description
Centered on the page in this print are two figures, facing opposite directions. They are both wearing similar garments in different colors: pants, short-sleeved shirts, and capes. The figure on the right has orange pants with blue and red stripes, red shoes, orange shirt with white trim and a blue cape with red trim. On the left, the figure wears white pants with red and blue stripes, orange shoes, a small red and white apron, a orange shirt with a black cape trimmed in white and blue. Both hold tulip-shaped objects in one hand that are black, trimmed in blue. Each wear an elaborate headdress: white at the base with a large fan coming from it with geometric shapes on the interior. The figure on the left has a blue fan on his headdress with three orange circles and one star, outlined in blue, and one black rectangle at the front of the headdress. On the right, the figure's headdress is red on a white base with three ciricles, black at the center, then red and then orange around it. Each headdress fan seems to have a ruffled edge. Both figures appear to be dancing.Primary Object ClassificationPrintCollection AreaModern and ContemporaryRights
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Aztec (culture or style)
Colonial Spanish American
modern and contemporary art