A replica of a mysterious pre-Hispanic sculpture of an indigenous woman was chosen on Tuesday to replace a statue of Christopher Columbus on Mexico City’s most important boulevard.
The statue was unearthed in January in the Huasteca area near the Gulf of Mexico coast. She is known as “The Young Woman of Amajac”, named after the village where she was found buried in a field. But no one really knows who the stone sculpture was meant to represent.
The National Institute of Anthropology and History said at the time that the statue resembled depictions of a fertility goddess from Huastec culture. But archaeologists at the institute also said she may have been part of the elite or ruling class.
The replica will be up to three times larger than the 6ft original, which is on display at the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. City officials decided that the statue of Columbus should be moved to a less prominent site and replaced with a native woman due to under-representation.
The aesthetics of the replica will be a radical departure from the statue of Columbus. “The Young Woman of Amajac” is pre-Hispanic in style with an open gaze because the colored stones that were probably originally inserted into her eye sockets have been lost.
Although there were other sculptures of Aboriginal people on the city’s Reforma Boulevard, they were generally done in a neoclassical style that matched the ornate base of the ancient statue of Christopher Columbus, urns and other carvings on the Boulevard.
“The Young Woman of Amajac” will be placed on the original neoclassical plinth.
The statue of Christopher Columbus was removed last year, supposedly for restoration, shortly before October 12, which Americans know as Columbus Day but Mexicans call Dia de la Raza, or Day of the Race – the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas in 1492. Frequently targeted the statue of Christopher Columbus with graffiti protesting the brutal treatment of indigenous people.
But rather than restore, the institute’s head, Diego Prieto Hernández, acknowledged on Tuesday that continued threats to the Columbus statue were the reason for the decision to move it to a quieter park in an upscale neighborhood where protests are rare.
“It was based, not on an ideological judgment of the [Columbus] character, but rather due to a need to retain the sculptural group, which if left in place would have been the target of threats and protests,” said Prieto Hernandez.