Product Idea |

Aztec Sun Stone

"This is a legend lost in time, a story about an artifact never found by the conqueror, and hidden in the deep forests of the ancient Aztec Empire.
Carved into the side of a sacred mountain, the Aztec Sun Stone remained unknown for centuries, concealing its secret from even the most daring explorers.
No one can say whether a work of such magnitude could have been accomplished by man or by something more powerful... There is no record of its creation at all.
Over time a smaller replica have been discovered, but of this one, hardly anyone knows of its existence.
There is only a man who has been watching over its stones since time immemorial, protecting and taking care of its integrity. A curious character, it is said!
He was once a proud eagle warrior of the Aztec Empire who miraculously escaped the conquerors. During a battle, he became lost in the thick forest, surrounded by enemies. Moments before he was captured, the ground collapsed beneath his feet, and he fell in a strange serpentine tunnel, alone. He set out to find the exit, driven by a strange wind that seemed to guide him. When he emerged, he found himself before the mountain and the Sun Stone.
After the initial astonishment, from within the Stone he glimpsed a glow, and immediately understood that the artifact concealed a secret. Days and nights of vain attempts had passed, when he discovered a mechanism by which the central disc could be opened. Great was the disappointment when he found only the eye of Naui Ollin staring back at him... but Naui Ollin symbolizes movement, action. Therefore, there was still something to be done.
Without losing heart, the warrior understood that he had to move the very sacred symbol, revealing a ladder that led to the altar of Quetzalcoatl, god of wind, wisdom and arts. Here, legend tells us, his heart changed, and he become immortal. He painted the Ollin on his shield and vowed to protect the temple for eternity, as a guardian.
After centuries, he still lends faith to its purpose. He still remains a warrior, but increasingly he finds himself contemplating the beauty of the world and nature around him, discovering that the divine is in all things.
No one knows where the golden feathers he tied to his hair came from... perhaps it's a gift from the great feathered serpent, grateful for the care and friendship of this little man."

Welcome to my new project, the Aztec Sun Stone!

This is by far the most difficult and fun build I have ever made. It draws inspiration from the world-famous Aztec Sun Stone, currently housed at the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City. Probably carved in the early 1500s, it was buried shortly after the Spanish conquest, only to be rediscovered on December 17, 1790 during repair work on Plaza Mayor.
It measures 3.6 metres in diameter, and weighs about 24.600 kg.

One of the most common hypothesis is that it's a calendar. The idea of time in Aztec culture was not linear, but cyclical. Thus we find represented the Sun of our era in the central circle, inside the symbol Ollin (movement). The four squares that surround the central deity represent the four previous eras. Then we have the 20 days of the Aztec calendar arranged counterclockwise, followed by the Sun’s rays, directed to the cardinal points. Above is depicted the year of the fifth sun (corresponding to 1479). On both sides we can see two fire snakes that open their mouths below, revealing the two rival deities Tonatiuh and Xiuhtecuhtli.

About the build

I began to build the set to make it first and foremost a display piece, aimed primarily at AFOLs with little shelf space and maybe(!) a free wall, and at all fans of ancient art, history and cultures.

The build consists of exactly 2999 pieces, and has a diameter of 49 studs (39cm).
The overall structure is pretty solid as the model is designed to be hung on the wall.
Aztec art style is very geometric, and it looks very convincing when translated into lego bricks. I tried to play with various levels of depth, so that light and shade would bring out all the details.

As I proceeded with the design, I decided to add something to make it more distinctive and colorful from the real one, so I built the vines that partially cover it, and the secret altar in the center.
As for my previous project, the Great Temple of Abu Simbel, I really like to hide something into the build, I think it's a good way to make it also a good "conversation" piece!
At that point the build became fully minifigure scale, so I designed the guardian and made up the little background-story you read above. Hope you enjoyed it!

Given its complexity, the biggest challenge was to make it compatible with instructions, so I designed a structure consisting of a few repeated modules, which are customized later.
This way, for example, the starting modules are the same for the whole outer circle, and different pieces will then be added depending on whether you are building the top, bottom, or one of the pieces in between.

I also made sure that the branches are easily removable without changes to the main structure, so the builder can choose in a very simple way which version he prefers to display, following his personal taste.

Similarly, the two inner circles are made from the same quarter repeated 4 times. Only at the end you'll add the 20 little modules, all different from each other, indicating the 20 days of the month.

(who said pretzel?!)

I tried to use different techniques for each section, so that each step is different from the previous one, with some fun and unexpected connections between the various parts.
I lost count of the attempts I made to achieve this result, but I am very happy with the final build, and (most important) I learned a lot in the process!

I hope you like the project, I really think it can be an elegant and distinctive addition to the collection of all art and history fans, or the first set of many new AFOLs!

Let me know in the comments your thoughts on the set, I'll be very happy to answer any question.
Thank you for reading to the end, and for your precious support!

Keep building!

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