Justyna Olko, an associate professor of Artes Liberales at the University of Warsaw, has written the definitive work on dress, jewelry, and all other accompanying symbols of rank in the late pre-Hispanic and early colonial Nahua eras. Building upon her earlier book, Turquoise Diadems and Staffs of Office: Elite Costume and Insignia of Power in Aztec and Early Colonial Mexico (2005), she examines a wide array of insignia of rank, by which she means “all components of elite dress and certain portable items … such as seats, mats, staffs, and weapons” (p. 2). Olko covers a lengthy period of time and a broad swath of central Mexico that included multiple ethnic and linguistic groups (beyond those who spoke Nahuatl) but that roughly coincided with the Triple Alliance or Aztec empire.

Analyzing an exhaustive array of sources that moves beyond those used by...

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