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Elizabeth Baquedano

Type of sculpture made with melted sugar. It is confined to Mexico, and its origins are uncertain, although it seems likely that it developed in imitation of the Pre-Columbian custom of creating images with tzoalli dough (a Náhuatl term for maize and amaranth seeds kneaded with honey), as described in detail by 16th-century Spanish chroniclers. The latter tradition has survived to the 21st century alongside sugar sculpture. Aztec deity images were made of clay, stone, wood, or tzoalli dough, and less frequently of gold, silver, or jade. The last three, more expensive materials, were used for temple images, but tzoalli images were also “sacred,” in that pieces were broken off and eaten, perhaps as if they represented the flesh of the gods. The 16th-century chronicler Diego Durán described how birds were made with such dough, with wings, feathers, and other details attached to them and painted, techniques also used by modern sugar sculptors....