On the day of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America, the fate of the historic monument of the Genoese navigator in Mexico City was decided.
The head of government of the Mexican capital, Claudia Sheinbaum, announced that the sculpture of Colón, which was removed in 2020 for maintenance, will not return to its place on the emblematic Paseo de la Reforma.
In his place, a new figure will be installed: that of the young woman from Amajac.
It is a replica of the sculpture of an indigenous woman from the Huasteca region that was found only on January 1.
“Giving indigenous women this special space has great symbolism in our city,” Sheinbaum said, stating that in the country’s history “the most discriminated against are precisely indigenous women.”
“They are those who have had the least voice to whom we must give a voice (…) And we must feel proud as inhabitants of this city that the indigenous women of our country are represented in this very special place of Reformation,” he added.
The removal of the Columbus monument, created by French sculptor Charles Cordier in 1877, has generated both sympathy and rejection throughout the country.
It has been part of the national debate on the legacy of Spanish colonialism and the vindication of indigenous cultures.
Sheinbaum assured that the decision was taken by consensus by the Monuments Committee and after more than 5,000 requests from indigenous peoples across the country for a woman to take the place of Colón on the country’s main avenue.
Who was the “young woman from Amajac”?
The discovery of the sculpture of the Amajac woman was fortuitous, according to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).
Inhabitants of Hidalgo Amajac, in the state of Veracruz, discovered the pre-Hispanic work in an agricultural field where it was upside down, which caused the piece to be ignored for a long time.
After an inspection by specialists, it was determined that it is the representation of a woman from the elite of the Huasteca culture.
“Possibly he was a ruler, due to his posture and attire, rather than a deity as almost all-female Huastec sculptures have been interpreted, which is linked to the goddess Tlazoltéotl,” said archaeologist María Eugenia Maldonado Vite in a statement.
The figure, two meters high, is made of limestone rock.
A small face was carved, with open and hollow eyes “which must have been filled with inlays of obsidian or another stone, ” according to the archaeologist.
It has a high headdress, a necklace in the center of which is distinguished a drop-shaped ornament, known as oyohualli , a torso dressed in a long-sleeved shirt and a long skirt that reaches the ankles and reveals the pair of bare feet.
“Due to its location, the piece is linked to the sculptural tradition and the Huasteca culture, although it has certain features of central Mexico, when the influence of the Triple Alliance became notorious in the region, which would temporarily place it towards the Late Postclassic (1450-1521 AD) “, according to the INAH.
“The style of the young woman from Amajac is similar to representations of Huastec goddesses of the earth and fertility, but with an external influence, possibly Nahua, as can be seen in the hollow of the eyes for inlays, a feature that does not belong to the Classic Huasteca sculpture but rather Mexica, “said archaeologist Maldonado Vite.
The piece is currently exhibited in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.
The INAH will make a larger replica so that the young woman from Amajac will be the one who “represents the indigenous women of our country in this place so emblematic and so important for the city and for our country,” Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said.