Indigenous Art Theory under the Aztec Empire


ACLS Fellowship Program


History of Art and Architecture

Named Award

ACLS H. and T. King Fellow in Ancient American Art and Culture named award


"Our Flickering Creations: Art Theory under the Aztec Empire" reconstructs Nahua (Aztec) art theory for precious art, an Indigenous genre that combined highly valuable works in turquoise mosaic, feathers, and gold. Precious art carried immense sacred, political, and economic value and featured as the preeminent art genre of the Aztec Empire. Despite its cultural importance, the genre has received limited attention, and its underlying conceptual and aesthetic tenets are virtually unknown. This study analyzes original Nahuatl-language sources and surviving artworks to demonstrate the existence of the precious art genre and to reconstruct the extensive body of Nahua art theory that underwrote its production.