The earliest Mexican jewelry designers needed to keep a careful eye on the calendar. Of course the first Mexican jewelry designs did not have the sort of calendars that we have today. Aztec jewelry designers relied on the information in wooden, plaster and malachite calendars.
Prior to any religious ceremony, the early Mexican jewelry designers needed to create new masques. Those masques would be worn by the men who would perform in the planned sacred ceremony. The jewelry designer had to understand the nature of that ceremony, so that he could create an appropriate masque.
In the ancient Aztec society, few people could read and write. They learned about the Aztec religion by observing the performances at the religious ceremonies. The masques made by the jewelers thus served as an important teaching tool.
Today, masques can tie together an event that calls for participation from numerous faith-based organizations. Masks have been part of many religious and cultural traditions. The streets of present-day Philadelphia contain many masked parade participants on New Year’s Day. They are all taking part in the annual Mummer’s Parade.
No doubt, the ancient Mexican jewelry designers made their masques with an eye to the tastes of the nobles among the Aztec society. The jewelers certainly got to know those nobles. Only the nobles wore much in the way of decoration on their clothing. Only the nobles could afford to pay jewelers for such decorations.
Most of the Aztec jewelry was fashioned from silver. That was the metal found in mines close to the location in which the Aztec culture developed. Today the makers of Mexican jewelry continue to feature items made with sterling silver.
Today retailers who sell Mexican jewelry do not find their orders changing according to the Aztec calendar. Few people are even aware anymore of what religious days might have been noted on such calendars. Some customers do schedule their purchase to coincide with a different religious holiday, such as Christmas.
Today’s Mexican jewelry designers seldom get asked to create a masque. They do often need to create jewelry for a woman who might plan to mask herself in make-up. In some sense, then, the demands on the jewelry designers of today are not that much different from the demands placed on the ancient jewelry designers. To a great degree, the elements of our modern society do not represent a rejection of the greatest influences in the most ancient societies.