Mexico City’s Art Deco – The Case of the Square Spiral

Part of Art Deco’s appeal is the familiar — the chevrons, sunrises and so on. But some Art Deco ornamentation is tied to a specific place. What Robert McGregor of Napier, New Zealand’s Art Deco Trust refers to as indigenous Deco.

On my trips to Mexico City, I noticed a motif I had not seen anywhere else–a sort of square spiral. Perhaps an early tribute to an Aztec god of Art Deco? While I was puzzling over this, Bruce Marwick of the Sacramento Art Deco Society was doing some research on the buildings of Cal Tech in Pasadena. One of the gates to Dabney Hall had similar, square spirals. According to the description accompanying the photo, to the Maya, this is the symbol for Kulkulcan, god of vegetation and rain. To the Aztecs, it’s Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent. The design can be seen at Chichen Itza and El Tajin.

spiral for wp (1 of 2)

Dabney Hall – Cal Tech, Pasadena

spiral for wp (2 of 2)

A closer look

spiral for wp (3 of 4)

Detail, Railroad Worker’s Union – Mexico City.

more square spiral (1 of 1)

Mexico City

spiral for wp (5 of 4)

Mexico City

shopping arcade (1 of 1)

Shopping arcade at Edificio Gemelos – Mexico City

Is this the correct explanation? You be the judge. But if it is, we’re talking about some very early examples of Art Deco.



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