Moteuczoma reborn: Biombo paintings and collective memory in colonial Mexico City

Document Type



Biombos, Screen painting, Mexican art, Mitotes, Ritual dance, Collective memory, Cities and towns in art, Conquest of Mexico (1519-1540), Mexico City, 17th century


History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Latin American Languages and Societies | Other History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology


Two-sided folding screens, called biombos, produced in Mexico City in the seventeenth century, bring together bird’s-eye views of the city with historical scenes of the sixteenth-century Spanish conquest. This article links the biombo scenes to the festival culture of the Hispanic capital, particularly that of Corpus Christi; both their iconography and the modes of viewing they inculcated helped to shape collective memory among elite city residents. But when set against the practice of mitotes, or ritual dances, by the city’s indigenous residents, the biombos point to a different set of collective memories operating in the city

Publication Title

Winterthur Portfolio, vol. 45, no. 2/3 (Summer/Autumn 2011)

Article Number


Publication status

Published; SherpaRomeo status: Green (publisher's version)

Publication Date

Summer 2011

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DOI of published version