The 500 Faces of Teotihuacan, a stone enigma in the city of the gods
The Santa Barbara Museum will shed light on these mysterious masks on Feb. 4 as part of its "Art Matters" virtual lecture series.
Although it is one of the most visited places in Mexico and only a few kilometers from the capital, Teotihuacan, whose name means "the city where men become gods," remains a great urban and historical mystery.
Not only was it the first planned city in Mesoamerica, but from 100 BC to 600 AD, Teotihuacan dominated the region with a mix of military, economic and religious power that made its citizens part of a colossal urban experiment.
There are great mysteries about which archaeologists still disagree today: Was the Teotihuacan civilization destroyed in a civil war? Was it really worshipping the sun god as the Mexica, who came upon the ruins later believed and interpreted them as the work of the gods? Or, was it an aquatic divinity, the god Tlaloc, who was worshipped in what is known today as the Pyramid of the Sun?
However, of all the enigmas that remain to be solved, there is one that confronts visitors and scholars alike with a wide, expressionless gaze: the 500 faces of Teotihuacan.
As part of its "Art Matters" lecture series, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art has scheduled a talk on the enigmatic Teotihuacan faces, which will take place on Feb. 4 at 3 p.m. via Zoom and will be led by the Fowler Museum's chief curator, Matthew Robb.
The talk will explore whether these enigmatic stone faces were really meant to represent the early citizens of Teotihuacan in an idealized way and will trace the history of the objects from the first discoveries in the 18th century to their presence in exhibitions and private collections.
What ideals did these masks symbolize and how could they be interpreted by their citizens, and was there a link between them and the central corn god in other Mesoamerican cultures?
Attendance to the talk on the 500 faces of Teotihuacan is free with an RSVP, which can be made HERE.