Mexico City to replace Columbus statue with pre-Hispanic sculpture of woman | Mexico

A replica of a mysterious pre-Hispanic sculpture of an indigenous woman has been chosen to replace the statue of Christopher Columbus on Mexico City’s most prominent street.

The statue was discovered in January in the Huasteca region near the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. She is known as Young Amajac, after the village where she was found buried in a field. But no one really knows who was supposed to depict the stone statue.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History said the statue at the time was similar to the depiction of a fertility goddess in Huastek culture. But the institute’s archaeologists also said she may have been a member of the elite or part of the ruling class.

The replica will be up to three times the size of the 6-foot (2 m) original, which is on display at the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. The city authorities decided to move the statue of Columbus to a less prominent location, and it should be replaced by an Aboriginal woman because they were underrepresented.

Amagak young woman. Photo: AP

The replica’s aesthetics would be a stark change from the Columbus statue. The young woman in Amagak is pre-Hispanic with open eyes staring because the colored stones that may have originally been inserted into her eye sockets are lost.

Although there are other statues of Aboriginal people on the city’s Reforma Street, these were usually made in a neoclassical style matching the ornate plinth of a former Columbus statue, urns, and other statues on the street.

Young Amajac will be placed on top of the original neoclassical plinth.

The statue of Columbus was removed last year for restoration, shortly before October 12, which those in the US know as Columbus Day, but Mexicans call it Dia de la Raza, or Race Day – the anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas in 1492 Protesters often targeted the statue of Columbus for his graffiti protesting the brutal treatment of indigenous peoples.

Plans to replace the Columbus statue have sparked controversy among critics of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Claudia Sheinbaum, mayor of Mexico City, who saw it as an attempt to rewrite Spain from the country’s history and diminish the Spanish role in founding Mexico and its culture. .

“The idea that Mexico was the product of a mixture of Spanish culture with indigenous culture, among young historians, is coming to an end,” said Ilan Simo, a historian at the Ibero-American University. Simo said the history being written now “sees the Spaniards as the origin of racism.” [in Mexico]”.

The controversy over the Columbus statue came as the country celebrated the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City) to the Spanish.

Sheinbaum spoke a lot this year about “500 years of Aboriginal resistance” and suggested replacing Columbus with an image of an Aboriginal woman.

But deliveries of a proposed replacement statue have drawn widespread derision: artist Pedro Reyes said the statue was inspired by an Olmec statue, but the work has been described as resembling a science fiction alien.

Sheinbaum scrapped the statue and tasked the city’s Committee on Antiquities and Public Art Works to choose a replacement. branded Replacing Columbus as “Decolonizing Paseo de la Reforma”, the most emblematic street in the capital.

On Tuesday, the president of the Institute of Anthropology, Diego Prieto Hernandez, acknowledged that constant threats to the Columbus statue were the reason for the decision to move it to a quieter park in an upscale neighborhood where protests are rare.

“This was not based on any ideological judgment [Columbus] character, but because of the need to preserve the sculptural ensemble, which, if left in place, would have been the target of threats and protests”, said Prieto Hernandez.

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