January 13, 2001

Dr.Jill Leslie Furst, "Tlaloc: Connections between Mexico and the American

    For the Aztecs, Mictlantecuhtli was the major skeletonized deity who ruled over the cold, barren Underworld and who received the dead. At the same time, Tlaloc and the little rain gods lived in the subterranean realm of Tlalocan, where they guarded seeds and ensured the continuing fertility of the earth. Traces of ancient Central Mexican beliefs are still embedded in the ideology of the Hopi, who consider their Underworld spirit to be the single figure of Masaw, the patron of the dead, and the keeper of fire and seeds. This connection offers a new perspective on the funerary customs of the Aztecs and the fate that they believed awaited men, women and children who died in ways sent by the rain gods.

    Jill Leslie Furst received her doctorate at the University of New Mexico in Precolumbian Art. She is Professor of Art History at Moore College of Art and Design and a Consulting Scholar in the American Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology.
    Dr. Furst is the author of numerous articles on the pre-Hispanic Mixtec and Aztecs. She is the author The Natural History of the Soul in Ancient Mexico (Yale University Press), which examines Aztec ideas about the human body and its multiple souls, and forthcoming Mojave Pottery/Mojave People (SAR Press). Dr. Furst is also the co-author of Pre-Columbian Art of Mexico (Abbeville) and North American Indian Art (Rizzoli). She is currently at work on a book of animal transformation in ancient Central Mexico.

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