Monday, June 5, 2023

Street Art in the Neighborhood (continued)

 Next door to the elementary school whose walls were decorated with paintings, there is a "secundaria" (junior high school) that also has a lot of artwork.

The paintings on the walls of this school are based on pre-Hispanic themes, particularly the legendary foundation of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan (the site of present-day Mexico City).

According to legend, the nomadic Aztec tribe (or Mexicas) were told by their god Huitzilopochtli to settle in the place where they saw an eagle perched on a cactus devouring a serpent.  They supposedly saw that omen on a small island in the middle of Lake Texcoco, and that is where they established themselves.  

Other pre-Hispanic images painted on the walls of the school.

This design snakes its way along one entire side of the school...

...and when you turn the corner, you realize that it is Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent god.

Across the street from the school, I could see that there is a fence with painted panels.  So, I crossed over to take a look at those.

I already mentioned that San Juan de Aragón is well known for its annual reenactment of the Battle of Puebla in which the Mexican troops halted the advance of the invading French army on May 5th of 1862.  The paintings along this fence were all related to the events of "Cinco de Mayo".

A patriotic painting with the Mexican flag and eagle and the volcanoes in the background.

Two of the panels portray General Ignacio Zaragoza, the victorious leader of the Mexican forces.

Just a few months after his victory at Puebla, Zaragoza died of typhoid fever at age of 33.

The Mexicans occupied an elevated fortified position and were able to defeat the superior forces of the French.  Although a year later the French marched into Mexico City, the Battle of Puebla was a morale booster that inspired the Mexicans to continue their fight against the French occupation.

 This panel shows the French and the Mexican troops that fought in the battle.

Fighting on the French side were the "Zouaves", an elite light infantry regiment.

The regular Mexican army was supplemented by volunteers from the mountain town of Zacapoaxtla.

After the battle, Zaragoza sent President Benito Juárez (pictured to the right in this painting) a single sentence message... "The national arms have been covered with glory."

The inscription goes on to say, "The French troops conducted themselves with valor in the combat and their chief (French general Lorencez, who was dismissed after the battle) with clumsiness."

You can learn a lot about Mexican culture and history from the art along its streets.

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