Mexico has more than 120 million inhabitants – which is more than Spain and Italy combined – and a cultural history that goes back thousands of years. How does one summarise such a large country with such history with just one symbol? That was the dilemma that confronted us in Human Resources when we were asked to contribute an objective representative of our country to the time capsule organised on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Mann+Hummel.
In search of the essence of Mexico
The choice was not easy. Like many other great nations, Mexico boasts a rich historical, cultural, and natural heritage making it easy to find genuine icons.
To speak about Mexico is to speak about the fascinating history of its Pre-Columbus civilizations, about the artistic contributions in multiple disciplines by great creators such as Frida Kahlo, Octavio Paz and Alejandro González Iñárritu, about is biological diversity – one of the greatest in the world – and about its expansive geography which stretches from the tropical jungles of the Yucatán to the deserts of Baja California. Of course, we can’t forget about our cuisine that is enjoyed daily by millions of people in every corner of the planet.
But one of the most recognised symbols of our culture is the Sun Stone, also known as the Aztec calendar.
The original monolith was carved during the Aztec empire’s era of great splendour and set out in the great temple of its capital, Tenochtitlan, which after the Spanish conquest was converted into modern Mexico City. The Spanish viewed the monolith as a pagan symbol, so they buried it. Two centuries later at the end of the 18th century, it was rediscovered, preserved, and has since been studied with great admiration and interest. Since 1964 it has been displayed in the National Museum of Anthropology.
What is the Sun Stone?
For two hundred years, countless researchers have analysed the monumental Sun Stone, trying to determine its exact purpose. Antonio de León y Gama, a Spanish astronomer and anthropologist, was the first to refer to it as the “Aztec calendar”, which is how it is currently popularly known. The Sun Stone’s purpose goes further, though; it is an overview of Aztec cosmology, an overview of the rich Mexican mythology, full of divinities that represent the forces and cycles of nature. The marvellous thing about this is that they were very advanced in their age!
Today, Mexican society is the result of a mix of various peoples and cultures and it becomes even more dynamic, modern, and globalised with each passing day. Yet for us Mexicans, our roots and traditions continue to be very important. The feeling of being rooted to our soil and the permanence of the traditions are part of our day-to-day lives and explain how we understand the world. The Aztec calendar we have chosen as a representative symbol of Mexico links to the mysticism of our ancestors, something that is still present in our lives today. Handicrafts enjoy a rich tradition in our country, so we wanted the piece to be handcrafted, carved in wood, and painted by hand. What’s more, given that the object in question is a calendar, it seemed to us to be a particularly appropriate object for the time capsule. Thus, this beautiful carving which represents not only Mexico, but also the very forces of the cosmos, will travel through time to give our most cordial greetings to the men and women of tomorrow.