Archaeological Ethics: Moctezuma’s Headdress

Archaeological Ethical motives: Moctezuma’s Headdress



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Features about Moctezuma’s Headdress

Amplification of the Moctezuma’s Headdress

Controversy about the Moctezuma’s Headdress




“I confide to your attention my darling kids, the most cherished gems I can go forth you. The great sovereign beyond the ocean will involvement himself to see that they come into their heritage, if you present before him their merely claims. I know your maestro will make this, if for no other ground, so for kindness I have shown the Spaniards though it has occasioned my ruin.

For all my bad lucks, Malinche, I bear you ill will”Moctezuma.

The history of the states is what represents us daily ; traditions, mores and beliefs are marks of the states, that alone which differentiate one for other. Some artefacts symbolize this singularity and the cultural heritage that many artefacts bring to the states is huge, unreplaceable and full of beauty. Its bequest must be preserved in the best manner and it is a duty of everyone to take attention of these objects.

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This undertaking aims to research the Mexican history specially the Aztecs and the reign of Moctezuma when the Spanish conquers arrive to Mexico headed by Hernan Cortes. With this conquer there is a particular point that stand out from the civilization and has been a figure of contention for a long clip now. This is the Moctezuma’s Headdress ; nowadays its location is in the Nacional Museum in Vienna.

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This undertaking besides will touch the point of position of the Mexicans and if is just plenty to come back to Mexico or remain in Austria its state for the past old ages.

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Mexico is recognized as a huge state, rich from civilization and history. From all the different civilizations that Mexico has, an of import and a powerful one is the Aztec civilization.

The Aztecs were known as those who foremost settled in Texcoco Lake ( what today we called Mexico City ) guided by their God Huitzilopochtli ( History, 2014 ) . After many old ages of reign and growing, in 1519 Spanish ships came to the Mexican district in hunt for gold or new districts to widen is power ( Gonzalez y Gonzalez, 2009 ) .

Spanish conquers foremost arrive to Veracruz, and easy travel to Tenochtitlan ruled by the Aztec emperor Moctezuma II. On the forenoon of November 8, 1519 the Aztec emperor Moctezuma II and the Spanish settler Hernan Cortes had their first meeting ; Moctezuma believed that Hernan Cortes was the ancient God Quetzalcoatl, and he was coming back for his district ( Cartwright, 2013 ) . The Aztecs received their conquers friendly but after two old ages of life with the Aztecs the Spanish conquers destroy most of Tenochtitlan under the bid of Hernan Cortes ; Moctezuma was captive and killed, which is historically called “La noche triste” . This created that Spanish people escaped to Spain, with them, 1000000s of Tenochtitlan artefacts were shipped outside Mexico. One of the artefacts involved was the Moctezuma’s headgear and together with many other artefacts they began its journey. This lead that many of them were lost in the travel or bargain, there is no a certain sum of how many of them where involved and how many of them are lost today.

The first official phantom of Moctezuma’s headgear was on 1596 in an stock list of the Archduke Ferdinand II of Tirol ( located in Ambras Castle ( Schloss Ambras Innsbruck, 2014 ) ) , but because of the Napoleonic Wars these relics were moved to the Belvedere Castle in Vienna for their protection ( Rivero & A ; Feest, El Penacho del Mexico Antiguo, 2012 ) .

In 1878 the Moctezuma’s headgear was rediscovered by a geologist Ferdinand von Hochstetter, it was founded severely damaged and because of this, he ordered the Restoration and replaced at the Museum of Natural History in Vienna ( Rivero & A ; Feest, Shared Heritage: The Ancient Mexican Feather Headdress in Vienna, 2012 ) .

When the World War I began the museum closes his doors and reopens until March 1915, completing this phase the objects were moved to the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna where there remain until October 19, 1940, holding the beginning of World War II, they were moved and saved in the vault of the National Bank in Austria. Until the terminal of the World War II these artefacts were left in the National Bank, subsequently they were replaced to the Museum of Ethnology, since so, its place.

At this clip, a reproduction of the Moctezuma’s headgear was created by Francisco Moctezuma, but because of what was go oning in the universe and the sum of money that the Austrian authorities was inquiring for, he did the reproduction with a picture, this is really on the National Museum of Anthropology and History in Mexico City.

Features about Moctezuma’s Headdress

Moctezuma’s headgear is portion of the Mexican plume trade ; is see an of import mark of patriotism because of its tradition, beauty, complexness, engineering and the colorful of their stuffs that are from ancient species founded in many Mexican civilizations.

The plume trade was created to stand for the scope for the upper regulations, priests and successful warriors ; they wear them as a mark of regard, wisdom and self-respect. Since the minute of births through decease, plumes have been portion of the day-to-day life of the Mexica, at the minute of the birth, present a plume symbolizes power, award and welcome ; for the decease, plumes were portion of the belongings that the asleep return with. ( Rivero & A ; Feest, El arte plumario en el Mexico del sigo Sixteen, 2012 ) .

Amplification of the Moctezuma’s Headdress

It was created in the Sixteen century by craftsmen called “amantecas” . At the forepart of the headgear we can appreciate four different colourss from different types of species ( green, brown, ruddy and bluish ) . At the dorsum there are more green plumes crisscrossed absolutely to the construction, it has a tallness of 116 centimetres and 175 in diameter ( Welt Museum Wien, 2014 ) .

The plumes were collected when the birds alteration of tegument after certain attention and without harming them. The creative activity of the “Penacho” was really hard and it involved a batch of people to make this piece of art, from goldworkers to craftsmans. It besides had a batch of different techniques to its amplification, like noodles and an exceptional art in signifier of mosaic. It contains 1,594 pieces of goldworker ( 80 % gold, 10 % Ag, 3 % Cu ) ( Olvido Moreno, 2013 ) . Its creative activity was highly careful and it was guided by an expert called tlatoani, who was in charge of supervising and concluding inside informations. Because of its construction it allows the piece to be flexible, immune, dynamic and light ; these created that anyone can have on it for hours without acquiring tired.

Controversy about the Moctezuma’s Headdress

Presents there are a batch of historic points and plants of art displayed in museums around the universe, but the existent inquiry is if those artefacts should return to its village/city/town of beginning? And if they return to their beginnings what would the old state, which has it before, have it back? Those inquiries has become an of import issue when archaeological points are founded or recovered, chiefly because those artefacts were founded in other states far from their beginnings.

The Moctezuma’s Headdress piece has been an unbelievable mark of contention between Mexico and Austria for many old ages. It had been the centre of positions, treatments and dialogues between both authoritiess, but without holding success. Since Mexico fought against its independence, they have been seeking to acquire it back. The latest to official bespeaking its return was the Mexican president Felipe Calderon. On February, 2010 he proposed, with the coaction of the National Institute of Anthropology and History and the Museum of Ethnology in Austria, to develop a undertaking in which their purpose was to make a scientific analysis of the piece, with the intent of determine its conditions and to cognize the proper processs of Restoration that will let the conveyance of the chef-d’oeuvre to Mexico ( Conaculta, 2011 ) . With this undertaking there was besides taking into consideration a loan by exchange of the float of Maximilian of Habsburg, which is exhibit in Mexico City in Chapultepec Castle, together with other artefacts that represent the authorities of Austria.

But after a difficult and extended research that last three old ages, in which specializer could reexamine, analyze and look into the Moctezuma headgear ; the representatives of both states ( Maria Moreno from Mexico and Melanie Kim from Austria ) announced that it can non be moved from one state to other without impacting their construction ( Amador, 2014 ) . An advanced engineering in which the quivers of the travel are rejected to impact the piece of art is required. Until this engineering is reached the best option is that the Moctezuma’s Headdress corsets in Vienna Austria.

Based on the interview with the Dr. Moreno, the research helps the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna to alter and better the saving and preservation of the maestro piece. Before the Restoration the piece of art was exposed at 90? , like a picture, but so it change to a horizontal place 22.5? , this manner tourers can hold a better grasp of this piece and besides it would non impact its construction ; eventually she said that if it is kept under the conditions of light control, microclimate and control of quivers, the stake is that we have “Penacho” for 500 old ages more ( Olvido Moreno, 2013 ) . What is for certain is Mexico and Vienna has already agreed to interchange goods that represent both states, in order to rich culturally and historical these states.


This headgear piece is a truly of import artefact that contains extended information about how were the Aztec civilization and its traditions. Is a mark of beauty, wealth and power for the Mexican civilization, it forms portion of Mexicans, but we can non deny that it besides form portion of Austrians because for all the history behind it. It represents the Mexican civilization wholly and bettering in engineering would truly give the chance for Mexicans to acquire that cultural heritage with such a large importance and influence in the history of Mexico.

The exchange of the pieces will besides be valuable for both states, because it will convey value for Mexicans and Austrians and besides it will non make struggle between the states. The touristry that both pieces of art represent for the states is immense and its one of the of import facets to see, it can bring forth more because of the of import and historical value of the objects.

From my point of position, I consider the fact that both are cherished artefacts, they symbolize an unbelievable value of tradition and civilization that are located far off from its roots. But sing the hazards of traveling them, this can impact its construction for good, doing it vulnerable and without chance to retrieve. The best option is to wait until engineering is advanced at the point the travel can be done without impacting the artefact ; making a win-win state of affairs in which both states have something in exchange that will rich culturally, historically and touristic.

The Austrian-Mexican binational committee analyzing the Ancient Mexican Feather Headdress, February 2010


Amador, J. ( 2014, June 3 ) .Mitos y verdades del Penacho de Moctezuma, documental de Jaime Kuri. Retrieved October 27, 2014, from Proceso: hypertext transfer protocol: // ? p=373771

Cartwright, M. ( 2013, October 10 ) .Montezuma. Retrieved October 26, 2014, from Ancient History Encyclopedia: hypertext transfer protocol: //

Conaculta. ( 2011, January 17 ) .Mexico negocia el retorno temporal del Penacho de Moctezuma. Retrieved October 29, 2014, from Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia: hypertext transfer protocol: //

Gonzalez y Gonzalez, L. ( 2009 ) . Los pueblos indigenas a la llegada de los espanoles. InViaje por La historia de Mexico( pp. 10-13 ) . Mexico, D.F. : Editorial Clio.

History. ( 2014 ) .Mexico Timeline. Retrieved October 27, 2014, from History: hypertext transfer protocol: //

Olvido Moreno, M. ( 2013, September 7 ) .El Penacho de Moctezuma. Restauraciones de los siglos XIX Y XXI.Retrieved October 28, 2014, from Youtube: hypertext transfer protocol: // v=dR6UDB0Lh0Y

Rivero, L. , & A ; Feest, C. ( 2012 ) .El arte plumario en el Mexico del sigo Sixteen. Retrieved October 27, 2014, from Reseach Gate: hypertext transfer protocol: //

Rivero, L. , & A ; Feest, C. ( 2012 ) .El Penacho del Mexico Antiguo. Retrieved October 27, 2014, from Research Gate: hypertext transfer protocol: //

Rivero, L. , & A ; Feest, C. ( 2012 ) .Shared Heritage: The Ancient Mexican Feather Headdress in Vienna. Retrieved October 28, 2014, from Research Gate: hypertext transfer protocol: //

Schloss Ambras Innsbruck. ( 2014 ) .Ambras Castle. Retrieved October 27, 2014, from Schloss Ambras Innsbruck: hypertext transfer protocol: //

Welt Museum Wien. ( 2014 ) .North and Central America: History of the aggregation. Retrieved October 29, 2014, from Welt Museum Wien: hypertext transfer protocol: //


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Archaeological Ethics: Moctezuma’s Headdress. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

Archaeological Ethics: Moctezuma’s Headdress

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