Teponaztli of Malinalco

Teponaztli of Malinalco
Teponaztli of Malinalco

The first question is: what is a teponaztli? Well, it is a musical instrument of the Mexica culture, traditionally known as Azteca. It was done by carving the trunk of a tree, which was first hollowed out. And later on its surface two H-shaped reeds were carved, on which they hit with drumsticks creating different sounds. In other words, it was a percussion instrument, a kind of xylophone with only two tones, with which the rhythm was set in dance and singing recitals.

Teponaztli of Malinalco

Teponaztli de Malinalco

But in addition to creating a musical instrument with a wooden trunk, then the carpenters - sculptors carved a series of shapes on its surface, to personalize each one of them and create true artistic objects.

Well, different examples of this musical instrument have come down to us, and many of them are in the National Museum of Anthropology of Mexico D. F. This teponaztli is also found there found in Malinalco.

This is a large piece, as it is a 95 x 25 x 87 cm wooden work. A curious fantastic animal has been carved on it, adapting to the elongated shape of the teponaztli and the horizontal arrangement in which it was played, almost always elevated on another wooden structure.

That fantastic animal is a mixture, since on the one handFeatures reminiscent of a coyote can be seen, but if we look at the legs, they are more like bird claws or they can also look like the legs of a swimming reptile, and finally the tail looks feathered. While the head is covered with thick curly hair. Such a mixture of animal forms has meant that according to some researchers it would represent a crocodile, while others see a wolf (today, extinct in central Mexico where the piece comes from).

Specifically, we are dealing with a piece from the late Postclassic period of Aztec or Mexica art, dated between the early 14th and early 16th centuries. Without a doubt, it is a work of great value, quality and beauty. But also in this case we are facing an example of how the teponaztli was part of an indissoluble couple in the music, rituals and fun of the Aztecs. And it is that this instrument was always accompanied by the huehuetl, as we see in many illustrations of various codices of the time.

Huehuetl of Malinalco

Huehuetl de Malinalco

And what was a huehuetl? A kind of vertical and cylindrical drum. Different examples of them have also been found, but of course the huehuetl of Malinalco, is one of the most admirable since fantastic reliefs were carved on it.

Popular topic