In this post we look at another unusual early colonial monument there, the celebrated "picota" of Zempoala. This rare 16th century structure, more properly called El Rollo de Justicia, was designed as a monument to Imperial authority and punitive justice.
|image © Niccolò Brooker|
|lion's head and inscription image © Niccolò Brooker|
Royal lions' heads face outward at the top, and primitive coyote like figures, with markings that suggest feathers, crouch around the base of the column.
|The picota in the Plaza Real de Tlaxcala (from the Relación Geográfica de Tlaxcala 1584)|
In colonial times, the picota was a common fixture in the main plazas of major Mexican towns and cities. After Independence, most such monuments were removed as hated symbols of Royal colonial authority, although a few survived and continued in use, often in other guises.
|The picota in the Plaza de Armas, Mexico City (18th c. print)|
picota column in Celaya
Although many still stand in Spain, today few identifiable picotas are to be found in Mexico. Aside from one beside the church of San Francisco in Celaya, the Zempoala picota, with its colonial inscription, may be the only unaltered example to have survived.
Visit our page on the murals of Zempoala
text © 2018 Richard D. Perry