The Zapotec Civilization Mural by Diego Rivera

The Zapotec Civilization Mural by Diego Rivera

This Diego Rivera mural represents the Zapotec and Mixtec Mesoamerican civilizations of Pre-Columbian Mexico. They developed in the region where the Mexican state of Oaxaca is located today. In the upper part in the center is the Balsas River, where the natives are gathering and panning for gold. To the right are some wild orchids growing as parasites on the trees, to the left are bird hunters with bows and arrows, black vultures and birds on the roof of the Indigenous huts, and four Quetzals are in a (cage; in the upper part extremely to the left in the same jungle are enormous nets, and traps for catching wild animals and birds of fine plumage.

Below, the indigenous people are selling feather headdresses to the noble warriors. Notice two of the merchants holding looking glasses, each one in the shape of a skull the black one is obsidian and the yellow one is of gold, and below of these is a group of natives making those feather headdresses of bright colors, and also working the mosaic with different kind of feathers.

To the right is a foundry for the gold, working near by are the goldsmiths casting fused metals into molds to make by a special lost-wax process for their artistic jewels, others are engraving, also working the turquoise, the jade, and the emerald.

In the lower part is a frieze in false relief, divided in three squares.

The first square from the left represents the mining of precious stones, making obsidian blades, arrow heads and then carrying them away.

The second square in the middle, are two jewelers; one is working with a primitive chin pressed bow hand driller bearing a narrow rounded piece of jade to make ear plugs and beads for the necklaces, the other is polishing the jade already wrought.

In the third square, are two sculptors, offering sculptured deities, a necklace and others items of jade to the Emperor and wife; notice their bodyguard is resting on his dreadful long war club, he is a warrior of the elite Eagle clan.

This mural was painted in 1942 by Diego Rivera.

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