Mexico City - Talks between Mexico and Austria on the temporary return of an Aztec feather headdress could be a model for the return of other hotly contested artifacts, and may provide a chance to resolve persistent questions about the five-century old piece, academics said on Tuesday.
The exchange could give Mexico the headdress on loan from the museum of ethnology in Vienna where it is currently held, while Mexico could send back a gilded carriage once used by a member of Austria's royal family who ruled Mexico in the 1860s.
“The day the headdress returns to our country will mark a milestone in re-encountering (Mexico's) identity,” said Carlos Villanueva of the IberoAmerican University's cultural office, “but in truth we really don't know what its real use was.”
The semicircle of green feathers from the Quetzal bird and other species is more than one metre wide, rather large for headgear.
Montezuma, the last Aztec emperor, gave the feathered headdress as a gift to Spanish Conqueror Hernan Cortes in 1519. But Mexican officials concede Montezuma probably never personally wore it.