An Aztec headdress has been across the Atlantic in Austria for nearly half a millennia – and it won’t be coming home anytime soon. The headdress, which experts believe was a gift from Aztec Emperor Moctezuma to Conquistador Hernan Cortes, is too fragile for the long journey back to Mexico.
This piece of history has caused tension between Mexico and Austria for over twenty years. In 1991, the Mexican government made its first formal request that Austria return the headdress. Many Mexicans believe artifacts like this headdress to be import keys to their Aztec heritage. The conflict even inspired world-famous Mexican poet Octavio Paz to say that the day the Penacho (headdress) returned to Mexico, the country would mark a reunion with its cultural identity.
Unfortunately, experts agree that an attempt to bring the headdress home would most likely destroy it. While the headdress itself may survive another five hundred years, whether or not it will make it be to Mexico one day is uncertain.
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