Mexico urges Austria to return Moctezuma’s headdress

MEXICO CITY (AFP) – Mexico’s president said on Monday that he had given his wife the “almost impossible mission” of persuading Austria to return a feather headdress said to have been worn by Aztec emperor Moctezuma.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced on Twitter that he had asked Beatriz Gutierrez, a journalist and writer, to appeal to Austria to give back the pre-Hispanic relic during her cultural tour of Europe.

“I recommended that she insist on the Moctezuma plume, although it is an almost impossible mission, since they have completely appropriated it,” he wrote after posting a photograph of Gutierrez with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen.

It is unclear exactly how the headdress, made of hundreds of long quetzal feathers and more than 1,000 gold plaques, ended up in Austria, where it is on display at a museum in Vienna. Historians believe that Emperor Moctezuma, who ruled from 1502 to 1520, probably gave the plume to Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes who took it to Europe.

Lopez Obrador’s plea came on the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas in 1492, which in Mexico is marked as Day of the Race in recognition of the country’s mixed indigenous and European heritage.