Saturday, 17 November 2012

Did this feather headdress belong to Moctezuma II?

This headdress is believed to be one of the most fragile objects in the Museum of Ethnology, Vienna. A group of Austrian-Mexican experts spent two years studying, analyzing and conserving it as part 
of a project organized by the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) in Mexico and the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien. 
The outcomes are said to be published soon - let's hope very soon! 

"The project focused on anthropological, historical, iconographic and conservation questions. Materials, technique and older restorations of the feather head-dress were analyzed. Its present flat appearance dates back to the restoration carried out in 1878 that had erroneously identified the feather head-dress as a standard. This resulted in the object’s loss of the three-dimensional shape it had had as a head-dress. At the time over 370 new small metal plates, feathers and skins of kingfishers were incorporated. The feather head-dress comprises a wealth of different materials: organic ones such as feathers, plant fibres, wood, leather, paper and textiles, but also non-organic materials such as gold and gilded brass. The friction and abrasions caused by these materials and the artifact’s age have compromised its state of preservation and complicated its conservation. The aging process of the organic materials has resulted in irreparable, brittle and fragile areas. Although the object has been stabilized with careful interventions and preventive conservation measures its original condition cannot be recreated. However, after careful cleaning and various conservation measures the feather head-dress can now be put on public display again after an absence of many years."

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