A jigsaw of an Aztec Goddess, this eleven piece puzzle from Mexico City and its accompanying story will tell you all you ever needed to know about why the Sun continues in its incessant race to catch the Moon. And for that matter it will explain just why the Moon is determined not to be caught.

The puzzle of the Aztec story of Coyolxauhqui is an illustration of a giant stone plaque unearthed in construction work in Mexico City in 1978. The discovery led to the excavation of the Templo Mayor. The 3.25 metres in diameter stone was found at the foot of the South stair of the fourth rebuilding of the temple, which dates it between 1469 and 1481.

Photo of the Coyolxauhqui stone seal

The jigsaw was donated to the museum by Lucy, a former education officer at Mexico City Museum who had come to live in the UK.

photo of the museum's Coyolxauhqui jigsaw in pieces

Coyolxauhqui literally means ‘face painted with bells’. The completed jigsaw shows how her dismembered body was reassembled by her new- born brother Huitzilopochtli into the moon before he ran after her into the sky as the bright golden sun.

Prior to Huitzilopochtli’s immaculate conception; his mother Coatlicue had not only given birth to Coyolxauhqui, she also had 400 sons (twenty times twenty meaning “innumerable”) who became the stars.

Below is a link to the story…

Mythstories museum used this exhibit as an icebreaker introduction for visitors. Storytelling’s one-to-one communication can come as a bit of a surprise to some, add to that the interactive nature of many of the museum’s many handling exhibits and you have the potential for culture shock. So setting the seemingly simple task of completing an eleven piece jigsaw avoided a lot of early eye contact and allowed visitors to get used to the Mythstories approach while our curators had the opportunity of telling the tale of Coyolxauhqui to them as they pieced together the jigsaw.

The Coyolxauhqui Jigsaw often featured in Mythstories’ workshops for young storytellers too. Below is a link to a creativity challenge…

Eagle-eyed people may notice that Coyolxauhqui’s bottom is a slightly different colour from the other jigsaw pieces. Mythstories museum suffered very little pilfering in its twenty plus years of public opening, but an Aztec Goddess’ bottom proved too big a temptation for one young gentleman on a school visit so our artist in residence was forced to make a replacement piece, which although a good colour match was achieved time proved that the acrylic paint faded at a different rate to the printers inks.

It is now part of a constellation of Central and South American exhibits at the Grosvenor Park Academy Mini Storytelling Museum in Chester.