Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Now Here's a HAT!

People who know me know I love hats. One of the hardest parts about downsizing for our recent move to a smaller place was selling or giving away some of my many hats. I still have about two dozen. I am going to try to attach to this entry a photograph we took in Mexico City, in the wonderful Museum of Anthropology. It is a reproduction of the feathered headdress of Moctezuma (I understand that’s the new proper spelling; I learned it as Montezuma). He was the ruler of the Aztec empire when the Spanish arrived. The Aztecs thought Cortez, their leader, might be a god. They devised a test, bringing out assorted closed chests and signing that Cortez should pick one to open. Cortez picked the one that had this marvelous feathered concoction in it, the one only a king was permitted to wear, and they knew he must be a god.

If I can't get it to attach, go to my website,, and hunt it down there -- it's worth the trip!

Anyway, the feathers are iridescent tail feathers from a South American bird, and they seem to glow with an inner light. I can just see myself striding up the aisle of my church on Easter Sunday morning in that hat. Or coming into a gathering to sign my newest book. That would be even more spectacular than the gold-net-covered object I wore last Christmas, the one that looks like a cross between a Christmas-pageant angel and a Brillo pad.

Because I write mysteries, I wonder how Cortez might have known to select that chest. Was it because the Aztecs who carried the chests to him treated that one with special care? Was it because someone told Cortez in advance to pick that particular chest, and if so who? And why? I think the simplest solution is the right one; the people who knew which chest held the feathered headdress treated it like a group of Catholic priests might treat a chest in which lay hidden a consecrated host. Just walk along the row kicking each chest in turn, and listen for the half-stifled intake of breath when you get to That One.

1 comment:

Monica Ferris said...

I almost had it, this time. I got the command that let me open a space to put a picture into it, but I couldn't get hold of the picture in a way that would let me insert it in the opening. (The very way I am wording this tells you all you need to know about my computer skills, and why I can't get this to work for me.)