Wednesday, 23. April 2014 - 23:04
15. 11. 12. - 15:00
A priceless headdress once worn by the last Aztec king who hoped that by giving it to the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes it would lead to peace has been saved from falling apart after a two year restoration process by more than a dozen experts.
Cortes accepted the gift from Emperor Montezuma II in 1519 but it did not stop him laying waste to the Aztec capital in Mexico. The headdress however survived the destruction of the city of Tenochtitlan where it was made and it was sent back as one of the spoils of war to the King of Spain, Don Carlos of Austria.
Ironically the gift that was intended as a sign of peace was used as part of Cortes' efforts to win the crown's support for his planned march to Tenochtitlan and the end of the Aztecs.
Once overseas, the headdress changed hands several times, making stops in the collections of European royalty such as Archduke Ferdinand Von Tirol where it was mentioned in 1521, before landing in the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna in 1880.
The item was taken off public view two years ago after it was noted the flamingo and other feathers that adorned it were starting to fall apart - sparking a painstaking two year restoration project.
The director of the Kunsthistorischen Museums (KHM) to which the Museum of Ethnology belongs is Sabine Haag, who said. "Given its past it is a miracle that this item even exists today. It is by far our most important object."
She said that media reports of a tug of war with Mexico that reportedly wanted the artefact back were no longer an issue and had been hyped up by the press. Former Mexican President Abelardo Rodriguez, who held office from 1932 to 1934, paid out of his own pocket to have the replica made after seeing the original while visiting Vienna.
Haag said that the question of whether the headdress would ever be allowed back to Mexico on loan was still open, but would be hard after the Austrian Committee for Cultural Heritage ruled that it was not suitable for transport.
Its present flat appearance dates back to the restoration carried out in 1878 that had mistakenly identified the feather head-dress as a standard.
Haag said: "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 artefact's age have compromised its state of preservation and complicated its conservation. The ageing 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."
Faymann warns against further Russia sanctions
Chancellor Werner Faymann has spoken out in support of moving away from additional sanctions on Russia.
Gazprom to explore expanding pipeline in Austria
Russia could soon begin constructing their South Stream gas pipeline in Austria after meetings were held this week with Gazprom.
Poacher in Vienna shoots five deer with bow and arrow
A poacher is suspected to have killed five animals in Vienna using a bow and arrow, a hunting weapon that is forbidden throughout Austria.
Czech firm in the proverbial over dung parcel terror alert in Austria
A Czech mail order company that sends elephant poo around the EU could be faced with a hefty bill after a package of dung sparked a terror alert at an Austrian town hall.
Julius Meinl expands to UK
Austria's prestigious coffee brand Julius Meinl is launching its famous product in the UK, with the hope of challenging the British culture of taking coffee to go.
Wiener Linien grinds to a temporary halt Wednesday morning
Vienna's public transport will grind to a halt between 4 am and 6.30am on Wednesday morning as unions hold an emergency meetings to discuss the safety of Wiener Linien staff.
Vienna to host fashion awards
Since 2009, the Vienna Awards for Fashion and Lifestyle has played a big role in the Austrian fashion scene and has evolved itself into one of the country's most important events in the industry to date.
Austrian architecture in the 20th Century
The Architecture centre in Vienna is opening the third stage of it's long term exhibition looking at Austrian 20th and 21st Century architecture.
Criminal caught after asking police if he should be arrested
A criminal who thought he had got away with four counts of embezzlement and fraud managed to alert police to his crimes after he walked into a police station to ask if there was an arrest warrant out on him.
Pink Easter bunny helps Vienna art world pay tribute to Dürer
The Viennese art world has created its own version of the Easter Bunny – by making a giant sized sculpture of the famous Albrecht Dürer painting currently on display until 29 June as part of the exhibition "Dürer, Michelangelo, Rubens"
The most popular stories –
last 7 days
|Property price rise continues|
|Wiener Linien grinds to a temporary halt Wednesday morning|
|Turtle flies from Vienna to India to try his luck with the ladies|
|Pink Easter bunny helps Vienna art world pay tribute to Dürer|
|Exploring photography and art through 1960s cult film Blow-Up|