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Lesson 1 : Images and Ideas

Aztec Legend

Luis Jiménez began developing his image for the Southwest Pieta by going back to a legend familiar to him from his childhood in El Paso. Some say that the story dates back to the Aztecs who lived in Mexico before the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors in the 16th century.

Others believe it originated during a romantic period in the 1920s.

There once was a young warrior named Popocatépetl, [popo-ca-TEH-petal] or Popo, who loved ….

… Ixtaccihuatl [eek-stack-SEE-you-waddle], or Ixta, the daughter of the Aztec emperor. To prove his worth to her father, Popo went off to war, while Ixta remained faithful awaiting his return. Meanwhile, an evil rival for the love of Ixta sent back word to her …

… that Popo had been killed.

When Popo returned safely from the war he found that Ixta was dead. When she heard of the death of her lover, she died of grief during her wedding to the evil rival who deceived her. In his sorrow, Popo carried Ixta to the highest mountain, where he grieved for days on end.

In time, the gods took pity on the tragic lovers and turned them to stone.

In Náhuatl, the language of the Aztecs, Popocatépetl means Great Smoking Rock. It is the name of a volcano in the Valley of Mexico.

Ixtaccihautl in Náhuatl means Sleeping Woman Mountain and is the name of a nearby mountain also in the Valley of Mexico. Legend has it that when the volcano, Popo, erupts, he will go to Ixta and awaken her. At last the lovers will be reunited.