Amantecayotl

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on
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One of the native arts that most impressed the newcomers was "feather mosiac" (arte plumario in Spanish; amantecayotl in Nahuatl) practiced by specially trained and gifted Aztec nobles.

Hummingbird feathers from the Yucatan had long been a component of tribute payments to the Aztec rulers, and the Spanish appear to have enjoyed the continuation of this custom. The images created by laying down these infinitesimally small feathers utilized their iridescent qualities for a spectacular effect. Very few examples of the earliest Christian feather mosaics survive, as the medium is so inherently fragile. Only a fraction retain a semblance of ther original radiant colors.