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Lightning Gods and Feathered Serpents: The Public Sculpture of El Tajín [Hardcover]

Rex Koontz

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Book Description

April 1 2009 Linda Schele Series in Maya and Pre-Columbian Studies
El Tajín, an ancient Mesoamerican capital in Veracruz, Mexico, has long been admired for its stunning pyramids and ballcourts decorated with extensive sculptural programs. Yet the city's singularity as the only center in the region with such a wealth of sculpture and fine architecture has hindered attempts to place it more firmly in the context of Mesoamerican history. In Lightning Gods and Feathered Serpents, Rex Koontz undertakes the first extensive treatment of El Tajín's iconography in over thirty years, allowing us to view its imagery in the broader Mesoamerican context of rising capitals and new elites during a period of fundamental historical transformations. Koontz focuses on three major architectural features-the Pyramid of the Niches/Central Plaza ensemble, the South Ballcourt, and the Mound of the Building Columns complex-and investigates the meanings of their sculpture and how these meanings would have been experienced by specific audiences. Koontz finds that the iconography of El Tajín reveals much about how motifs and elite rites growing out of the Classic period were transmitted to later Mesoamerican peoples as the cultures centered on Teotihuacan and the Maya became the myriad city-states of the Early Postclassic period. By reexamining the iconography of sculptures long in the record, as well as introducing important new monuments and contexts, Lightning Gods and Feathered Serpents clearly demonstrates El Tajín's numerous iconographic connections with other areas of Mesoamerica, while also exploring its roots in an indigenous Gulf lowlands culture whose outlines are only now emerging. At the same time, it begins to uncover a largely ignored regional artistic culture of which Tajín is the crowning achievement.

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"I find this book to be a superior piece of scholarship in every way." John Pohl, Peter Jay Sharp Curator and Lecturer in the Art of the Ancient Americas, Princeton University Art Museum


I find this book to be a superior piece of scholarship in every way. (John Pohl, Peter Jay Sharp Curator and Lecturer in the Art of the Ancient Americas, Princeton University Art Museum)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Technical but informational. March 15 2013
By sbf - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A bit too academic in style, but interesting facts are included. The site of El Tajin is marvelous so this book enhanced my understanding.
5.0 out of 5 stars Exception Detail in a Easy to Read Format Dec 11 2012
By Hector Cordova - Published on
This book is fundamental to anyone that studies Mesoamerica. It is of particular interest if your field encompasses any of these areas: Teotihuacan, Epi-Classic, Olmec Studies -- just to mention a few. El Tajin rose after the fall of Teotihuacan and was within the sphere of Teotihuacan influence. It was also one of the dominant sites during the Epi Classic - early Post Classic era along with Xochicalco, Tula and others. El Tajin is located in Huastec territory and was part of the Olmec homelands in prior centuries. The ability to read and decipher the glyphs and murals of this site help in the study of Zuyua for those that study this concept. It is also vital for anyone interested in Mesoamerican cosmology as a whole. Koontz takes a very logical, step by step approach in explaining the concepts and interpreting the images found at the site. If you ever are fortunate to visit this site in person, please take this book along with you. It is an amazing experience.

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