Feather Capes and Aztec Royalty

In my book, “The Lady of the Turquoise Pendant“, I include an illustration of King Topiltzin wearing three capes. The social custom dictated that the higher ranked the individual, the more capes he wore. And the finest of these garments were the feather capes.

Lilibeth André, King Topiltzin, Oil, 24x18

Lilibeth André, King Topiltzin, Oil, 24×18

These capes were woven of various fabrics and feathers from the most colorful birds in the empire. These feathers were collected and brought to create the finery fit for the most well-to-do or those of the highest stature.

In a recent visit to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts Houston, I toured the Pre-Colombian collection and to my amazement, I saw several feathered garments.

Imagine my excitement when looking at the various objects such as nose rings, lip and ear plugs, I noticed down the hall a textured fabric that looked like…feathers! I was drawn to it like a kid seeing something I had only imagined. It was not easy painting feather capes on my King, and seeing the real garment was fantastic affirmation to my imagination.

But don’t take my word for how fantastic these garments look in real life. Visit the MFA-H and check out the Pre-Colombian Collection where you will find at least three of these garments. Remember that Thursday is free museum day.


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