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Tonatiuh, Codex Borgia

Tonatiuh, Codex Borgia

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Tonatiuh, the Aztec God of the Sun, Fertility and Sacrifice

  • Ph.D., Anthropology, University of California Riverside
  • M.A., Anthropology, University of California Riverside
  • B.A., Humanities, University of Bologna

Tonatiuh (pronounced Toh-nah-tee-uh and meaning something like "He who goes forth shining") was the name of the Aztec sun god, and he was the patron of all Aztec warriors, especially of the important jaguar and eagle warrior orders.

In terms of etymology, the name Tonatiuh came from the Aztec verb "tona", which means to shimmer, to shine, or to give off rays. The Aztec word for gold ("cuztic teocuitlatl") means "yellow divine excretions", taken by scholars as a direct reference to excretions of the solar deity.

The first eight pages list the 260 day signs of the tonalpohualli (day sign), each trecena of 13 signs forming a horizontal row spanning two pages. Certain days are marked with a footprint symbol. Divinatory symbols are placed above and below the day signs.

Sections parallel to this are contained in the first eight pages of the Codex Cospi and the Codex Vaticanus B. However, while the Codex Borgia is read from right to left, these codices are read from left to right. Additionally, the Codex Cospi includes the Lords of the Night alongside the day signs.

Why was the Sun God called Tonatiuh? Asked by Gateway Primary School. Chosen and answered by Our In-House Team.

Illustration of Tonatiuh by Miguel Covarrubias, based on his image in the Codex Borgia (Click on image to enlarge)

Good question! Many know that the Mexica sun god&rsquos name in their language, Náhuatl, was Tonatiuh less well known is what this name means. Like many Náhuatl terms, it&rsquos a composite word, made up of two shorter parts: tona , meaning &lsquofor the sun to shine&rsquo (ie, to be a warm, sunny day), and the ending -tiuh , meaning to go, to do. As there is a strong sense of an active verb in the name, perhaps we should translate Tonatiuh as &lsquoTo Go and Make the Sun Shine&rsquo. In this picture of Tonatiuh, adapted from the Codex Borgia, the great sun disk and its rays are clearly visible.

Sun and moon, painted ceramic specially created for Mexicolore by celebrated Mexican &lsquoTree-of-Life&rsquo artist Tiburcio Soteno (Click on image to enlarge)

Tonatiuh can also refer to an epoch, (world era) or &lsquosun&rsquo, in the sense of the sequence of creations that the Mexica believed our world has been going through (we&rsquore now in the fifth Aztec era, called &lsquo5-Movement&rsquo, so dramatically portrayed on the giant Sunstone).

Interestingly, in Nahua communities today the every-day word for a &lsquoday&rsquo is a tonatiuh . So every day in the Aztec language is a Sun-day!

Info from:-
&bull An Analytical Dictionary of Nahuatl by Frances Kartunnen, University of Oklahoma Press, 1992
&bull Diccionario de la Lengua Nahuatl by César Macazaga Ordoño, Editorial Innovación, Mexico City, 1979
Picture sources:-
&bull Main picture scanned from The Aztecs: People of the Sun by Alfonso Caso, University of Oklahoma Press, 1978.
&bull Tiburcio Soteno art: photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore

The Discovery Of The Sun Stone

Mexican revolutionary leader, Venustiano Carranza with the Sun Stone, 1917, via Fototeco Nacional Mexico

When the Aztec empire was conquered by the Spanish in 1521, the conquistadores feared that their new subjects would continue practicing their terrifying religious rituals. In an attempt to put an end to the human sacrifices and sun worship, the Spaniards buried the Sun Stone upside down in the main square of what is now Mexico City. Over the centuries, the monolith became a ruin. Traces of paint have been discovered in the pores of the stone, showing that it was once brightly colored. Any hint of paint has been rubbed off over the course of time.

Catedral Piedra del sol, 1950s

In 1790, the Aztec Calendar was unearthed by laborer’s working on the plumbing system in the city. The Spanish monarchs who then ruled Mexico displayed the Sun Stone on the side of the Metropolitan Cathedral, as evidence of the empire’s rich history. Beaten by the wind, rain, and the bullets of American soldiers, the stone was gradually eroded, until it was rehoused at the National Museum in 1885.

Codex Borgia

Mesoamericans made screenfold manuscripts of great artistic beauty. One of them is the Codex Borgia, an Aztec manuscript made during the late Post-Classic period, which stretched from about 1250 until about 1521. It has been studied for centuries, and scholars continue to study this complex manuscript in order to better understand its original meaning and use.

While manuscripts were both ubiquitous and esteemed in Mesoamerica, only twelve survived the destruction related to the conquest of the Aztecs by Spain, when most were burned or otherwise destroyed. Each of the surviving manuscripts bears the name of its European owner or the institution where it was or is now kept. For example, the Codex Borgia is named after its former owner, Cardinal Stefano Borgia, an avid collector of coins and manuscripts.

Based on geographic origin and style, scholars classify the 12 pre-conquest manuscripts into three groups:

Making screenfold manuscripts

Codex Borgia, facsimile edition published by Testimonio Compañía Editorial, 2008

Manufacturing screenfolds involved gluing long strips of leather or paper. These measured different widths, but were of approximately the same height to form an even longer strip that was folded back and forth, accordion-like, to make “pages.” Scholars call the screenfold’s front “obverse” and its back “reverse.” Two pages, a large section, or even an entire side—obverse or reverse—can be viewed simultaneously. The screenfold is a Mesoamerican construction, strikingly different from European manuscripts whose pages are bound on the left side so the reader sees two pages at a time. Artists covered the screenfold’s obverse and reverse with white gesso to prepare it for painting.

Describing the Codex Borgia

When completely unfolded, the Codex Borgia measures approximately 1,030 centimeters (more than 33 feet) in width. When folded, its nearly square pages, each measuring approximately 26.5 by 27 centimeters, can be individually appreciated. The screenfold consists of 39 double-sided pages or 78 single pages, though only 76 of these are painted. The two outermost pages served as covers to which wooden panels were attached (only the Codex Vaticanus B retains these panels).

Codex Borgia, c. 1500, p. 23 (Vatican Library), note: the Vatican Library watermarks digital images

The Codex Borgia features images with precise contour lines and painted with polychrome washes. In its dense imagery, human figures (usually representing gods) predominate, although plants, trees, animals, water, architectural features, celestial bodies, shields, and tools and accoutrements also appear. These are sketched with fine black lines, which in most instances are delicate and precise, such as the outline of the bird’s beak on folio (page) 23. Other outlines are rendered with somewhat thicker strokes, as is visible in the human figure’s legs and the feathers on the bird’s outstretched wings. Sometimes lines are executed as if to evoke shading, such as the narrow blue band at the base of the figure’s headdress. In the bird’s claw, diagonal lines coming from opposite directions simulate texture.

Detail, Codex Borgia, c. 1500, p. 23 (Vatican Library)

Studying the Codex Borgia

Pre-conquest manuscripts like the Codex Borgia help us to understand indigenous thought before the arrival of Europeans and Africans however, the writing is extraordinarily difficult to decipher as it consists entirely of images and glyphs (characters or symbols). For example, page 28 features five compartments—one in each corner and one in the center—each with a male hovering above a female.

Codex Borgia, c. 1500, p. 28 (Vatican Library), note: the Vatican Library watermarks digital images.

Glyphs for the days and year, Tlaloc (god) wearing the costume elements of Xiuhtlecuhtli (Fire Lord) and a goddess wearing the headdress of Chalchitlucue, Codex Borgia, c. 1500, p. 28 (Vatican Library)

Each female wears an elaborate headdress but is otherwise naked. The male-female couple appears amid maize, an important Mesoamerican plant. Below each compartment are three rectangles each containing a glyph. How do we decipher these images and glyphs? In the early colonial period, indigenous scribes, friars, conquistadors , and other Spanish officials compiled documents—what we call the ethnohistoric record—including chronicles and manuscripts with illustrations by indigenous artists that featured imagery with explanatory glosses in Spanish, Nahuatl (the language of the Mexica, or Aztecs), Latin, and/or Italian. These help us to understand writing in pre-Columbian manuscripts.

For example, page 28 of the Codex Borgia depicts Tlaloc, the god of rain whose iconography includes goggle eyes and fangs. Tlaloc wears costume elements and paraphernalia of additional creator gods, which, starting in the lower right and following a counter clockwise direction, are: Tezcatlipoca (Smoking Mirror), Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli (Lord of Dawn), Xiuhtlecuhtli (Fire Lord), Quetzalcoatl (Wind God), and Xochipilli (Flower Prince). The ethnohistoric sources also help us to identify the female figures and glyphs. The females wear the headdress of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl, the wind god (lower right), Xochiquetzal, the Flower Quetzal (upper right), and Chalchitlucue, the water goddess (the other compartments). The glyphs are day signs recording dates. In each compartment two glyphs represent days and one represents a year (page 28 records five consecutive years)

It is generally believed that the glyphs record the movements of the planet Venus and other celestial bodies, which would link the iconography of page 28 to astronomy and rainfall patterns. Because some of the glyphs are severely worn, there is some disagreement about exactly what they represent. Overall, the page’s iconography relates to maize, creating what some would call an “agricultural almanac.”

Tlaloc (detail), Codex Borgia, c. 1500, f. 28 (Vatican Library)

The Codex Borgia’s scholarship is extensive and includes discussions of its materials, construction, style, origin, and interpretation (of specific figures, pages, or sections). In the 1790s, the Jesuit José Lino Fábrega wrote a pioneering commentary arguing that the manuscript relays messages about divination (predicting the future). Eduard Seler’s 1904 page-by-page iconographic analysis of the Codex Borgia, which continues to be an essential tool in the study of Mesoamerican manuscripts, contends that the Codex Borgia conveys messages about both divination and astronomy. Subsequent scholars have shown that the Codex Borgia also records historical, ritual, mythological, and most recently, botanical information. For example, I have argued with iconographic, ethnographic, and scientific evidence that page 28 represents pollination. Because so few original codices survive, the continued study of the Codex Borgia is essential for our understanding of the pre-conquest cultures of the Americas.

Additional resources:

Ferdinand Anders, Maarten Jansen, and Luis Reyes García, Los templos del cielo y de la oscuridad, oráculos y liturgia: Libro explicativo del llamado Códice Borgia (Graz, Austria: Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt Madrid: Sociedad Estatal Quinto Centenario Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1993) (in Spanish).

Juan José Batalla Rosado, Codex Borgia. El Códice Borgia: Una guía para un viaje alucinante por el inframundo (Madrid, España: Biblioteca Apostólica Vaticana, Testimonio Compañía Editorial, 2008). (Written in Spanish, but the accompanying facsimile is stunning UCLA Special Collections has a copy)

Elizabeth Hill Boone, Cycles of Time and Meaning in the Mexican Books of Fate (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2007).

Gisele Díaz and Alan Rodgers, The Codex Borgia: A Full-Color Restoration of the Ancient Mexican Manuscript (New York: Dover, 1993).

Helen Burgos Ellis, “Maize, Quetzalcoatl, and Grass Imagery: Science in the Central Mexican Codex Borgia” (PhD diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 2015).

Eduard Seler, Comentarios al Códice Borgia, translated by Mariana Frenk. 3 vols. (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1963 [1904–9]) (in Spanish).

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Tonatiuh, Codex Borgia - History

ANCIENT BOOKS: Borgia Group Codices


Rios 1 (13v) First Trecena: Tonacatecotle

This is the representation of Tonacatecotle (Tonacatecuhtli), which name signifies the Lord of our Bodies others say that it means the First Man, or perhaps it means that the first man was so called. These are the figures which have been mentioned and the first is that of their greatest god, Tonacatecotle. It represents the first god under whom, as they affirm, was the dominion of the world who it appeared good to them, breathed and divided the waters of the heaven and the earth, which at first were all confused together, and disposed of them as they now are and accordingly they called him the Lord of our Bodies, and also of Abundance, who bestowed everything upon them, and on this account they paint him alone with a crown.

They call him besides, Seven Flowers, for they say that he disposes of the principalities of the earth. He had no temple, nor did they offer sacrifices to him for they say that he did not require them, as if on account of his superior majesty so that even here we see how the pride of those who despised God, long ago from the beginning, has displayed itself, since the Devil has chosen to apply himself what Saint Jon says of God - that on account of his greatness no temple which our gratitude could erect would content him. They say that Tonacatecotle presided over the thirteen signs here marked. Those above denote thirteen causes or influences of the sky which are under subjection to him, and the others below are the thirteen signs of their superstition and sorcery.

This man and woman represent the first pair who existed in the world: their names are Huehue. Between them is placed a knife or razor, and an arrow above each of their heads, typifying death, as in them death originated. They called this god Tonacatecotli, and by another name Citallatonalli and they said that he was the constellation which appears by night in the sky, named Saint James' or the Milky Way. They paint these figures and all the other which follow each of them in its own manner because as they considered them deities, each had its particular festival. It was necessary to wear in these festivals the habit of the god. Click to view this page.

Tonacaciqua was the wife of Tonacatecotle: for as we have observed above, although their gods were not as they affirm united for matrimonial purposes, still they assigned to each of them a goddess as a companion: they called her by another name Suchiquetzal (Xochiquetzal) and Chicomecoual (Chicomecoatl) which means Seven Serpents because they say that she was the cause of sterility, famine, and the miseries of this life. Click to view this page.

Rios 3 (14v) Second Trecena: Quetzalcoatle

They declare that their supreme deity, or, more properly speaking, demon Tonacatecotle, whom we have just mentioned, who by another name was called Citinatonali, when it appeared good to him, breathed and begot Quetzalcoatle, not by connection with a woman, but by his breath alone, as we have observed above, when he sent his ambassador as they say to the virgin of Tula.

They believed him to be the god of air, and he was the first to whom they built temples and churches, which they formed perfectly round, without any angles. They say that it was he who effected the reformation of the world by penance, as we have already said since as, according to their account, his father had created the world, and men had given themselves up to vice, on which account it had been so frequently destroyed, Citinatonali sent his son into the world to reform it. We certainly must deplore the blindness of these miserable people, on whom Saint Paul says the wrath of God has to be revealed, inasmuch as his eternal truth was so long kept back by the injustice of attributing to this demon that which belonged to Him for He being the sole Creator of the universe, and He who made the division of the waters, which these poor just now attributed to the Devil when it appeared good to Him, dispatched the heavenly ambassador to announce to the Virgin that she should be the Mother of his Eternal Word: who, when he found the world corrupt, reformed it by doing penance and by dying upon the cross for our sins and not the wretched Quetzalcoatle, to whom these miserable people attributed his work.

They assigned to him the dominion over the other thirteen signs, which are here represented, in the same manner as they had assigned the preceding thirteen to his father. They celebrated a great festival on the arrival of his sign, as we shall see in the sign of Four Earthquakes, which is the fourth in order here, because they feared that the world would be destroyed in that sign, as he had foretold them when he disappeared in the Red Sea which event occurred on the same sign. As they considered him their advocate, they celebrated a solemn festival, and fasted during four signs. Click to view this page.

Rios 4 (15r): Blood Sacrifice

This figure signifies that Quetzalcoatle was the first inventor of sacrifices of human blood, amongst the various other things which they offered to the gods and this was the manner in which they pierced their tongues, that blood might flow from thence, and their ears and penis till at last, as we shall presently mention, the custom of human sacrifices was introduced, when they tore out the hearts of the victims, to present them to the face of the idol which they considered the image of their wretched god. Click to view this page.

Rios 5 (15v) Third Trecena: Tepeyolotli (which is the same as the echo)

They considered this Tepeyolotli (Tepeyolotl) the lord of these thirteen signs, in which they celebrated his festival during the four last of which they fasted, out of reverence, on account of the earth's having remained after the deluge. But as its condition was disordered and filthy, they did not consider the sacrifices of these signs as good or clean, but on the contrary as unclean and they applied to them an appellation which in common phraseology we might explain by the term of "sacrifices of filth". These last four signs in which they fasted, were likewise out of reverence and in honor of Suguiquizal (Xochiquetzal) the wife of Tonacatecotl, whose name signifies the Lifting or Raising up of Roses, for they say that the goddess caused the earth to flourish. This proper name might be written Tesciulutli, which is the Heart of the Mountain, which means that echo or reverberation of the voice which resounds in a mountain. Click to view this page.

Rios 6 (16r): (Seven Reed Festival)

This figure has no name for it only shows how, after the disappearance of Topiltzin Quetzalcoatle, men invented sacrifices of children, with the intention of honoring his festival, which was on the day Seven Canes (Reed). They say that he was born on that sign and accordingly a very great festival was celebrated on that sign in Chululan (Cholula) to which they came from all parts of the country, and brought offerings and presents to the lords, Papas, and priests of the temples. And they celebrated a similar festival and solemnity on the sign in which he disappeared, which was that of One Cane (Reed). These solemnities or festivals occurred at the expiration of every fifty-two years. Click to view this page.

Rios 7 (17v) Fourth Trecena: Chalchiutlicue

Chalchiutlicue is the Woman whose dress is adorned with precious stones. They painted her with a spinning-wheel in one hand, and in the other a kind of weaver's comb, which is a wooden instrument with which the Indians of that country weave intending thereby to show that, of the sons which women bring forth, some are slaves, some are merchants, some die in war, others are rich, and others poor. And to show that finally all perish, they paint a stream carrying them away. She presided over these thirteen signs and when the war commenced on the sign of One Cane (Reed), they celebrated a great festival in Chululan (Cholula) to Quetzalcoatle, for they say that he was their first Papa or priest. Click to view this page.

Rios 8 (18r): Tlazolteutl (Tlazolteotl)

They say that this representation of a head signifies the commencement of sin, which began with time, and that such is the termination of its commencement which is allotted to sin. Click to view this page.

Rios 9 (16v) Fifth Trecena: Quequecoyotl (Huehuecoyotl)

They say that the Otomies worshipped Quequecoyotl as their god. He was the Lord of these thirteen signs, in which they celebrated his festival, during the four last of which they fasted, in honor of the other Quetzalcoatle of Tula. They called them the festival of discord. He who was born on the sign of One Rose (Flower) they believed would become a musician, a physician, a weaver, or a principal person. When the sign of Rabbit arrived, they fasted on account of the fall of the first man. Click to view this page.

Rios 10 (17r): Isnextli (Blinded with Ashes)

We certainly ought to deplore the blindness of these people and the cunning of Satan, who in this manner has persevered in counterfeiting the Holy Scriptures since he communicated to these poor people the knowledge of the temptation of our mother Eve, and of the inconstancy of our father Adam, under the fiction of this woman, who is turned towards her husband, as God declared to our mother Eve, "et ad virum conversio ejus", (and she shall turn towards her husband) whom they call Isnextli, who is the same as Eve, who is always weeping, with her eyes dim with ashes, with a rose in her hand emblematical of her grief, being in consequence of having gathered it.

And accordingly they say that she cannot behold heaven: wherefore in recollection of the happiness which on that account, she lost, they celebrate a fast every eight years on account of this calamitous event the fast was on bread and water. They fasted during the eight signs preceding the entrance of the Rose, and when that sign arrived they prepared themselves for the celebration of the festival. They affirm that every series of five days comprised in this calendar was dedicated to this fall, because on such a day Eve sinned they were accordingly enjoined to bathe themselves on this night, in order to escape disease. Click to view this page.

Rios 11 (18v) Sixth Trecena: Naollin (Nahui Ollin), that is to say, the tremulous action and motions of the Sun caused by the reflection of its rays.

Naollin they say is the Sun in its tremulent action and motions, to which they attribute the production of all ordinary things. When this figure entered in the sign of One Skull (Death), they esteemed that sign as very unlucky and they believed that whoever was born on it would be a sorcerer, and devoted to the study of a certain sort of magic in great repute amongst them, whereby they transformed themselves into the figures of various animals. This figure presided over these thirteen signs, and they believed that whoever was born on any one of them, would be a person of great consideration. Click to view this page.

Rios 12 (19r): Meztli or the Moon

They believed the Moon presided over human generation, and accordingly they always put it by the side of the sun. They placed on its head a sea snail, to denote that in the same way as this marine animal creeps from its integument or shell, so man comes from his mother's womb. Click to view this page.

Rios 13 (19v) Seventh Trecena: Nahuiehecatli (Nahui Ehecatl)

Nahuiehecatli they believed to be the god of the four winds his name likewise bears this signification. The merchants celebrated a great festival in his honor but when he entered in the fifth sign they neither danced or ventured to leave their houses, for they believed that any illness which might befall them on that sign would be so dangerous in nature that none would recover from it and therefore, although they chanced to be on a journey, they shut themselves up in the house on that day. This deity presided over these thirteen signs. Click to view this page.

Rios 14 (20r): Tlaloque (Tlaloc)

I cannot assign a different etymology for the name of Tlaloque, but can only say, that as the companion of the four winds or four seasons of the year, it signifies fine weather and accordingly, although the serpent is an unlucky sign, when in this month Tlaloque was in the sign of Seven Serpents, they considered it fortunate for everything, but especially for marriages. Note: Codex Borgia assigns Tlaloc, the rain god as the primary ruler of this seventh trecena. Click to view this page.

Rios 15 (20v) Eighth Trecena: Mayaguil (Mayahuel)

They feign that Mayaguil was a woman with four hundred breasts, and that the gods, on account of her fruitfulness, changed her into the Maguei (Maguey plant), which is the vine of that country, from which they make wine. She presided over these thirteen signs: but whoever chanced to be born on the first sign of the Herb (Grass), it proved unlucky to him for they say that it was applied to the Tlamatzatzguex, who were a race of demons dwelling amongst them, who according to their account wandered through the air, from whom the ministers of their temples took their denomination.

When this sign arrived, parents enjoined their children not to leave the house, lest any misfortune or unlucky accident should befall them. They believed that those who were born in Two Canes (Reed), which is the second sign, would be long lived, for they say that sign was applied to Heaven. They manufacture so many things from this plant called the Maguei, and it is so very useful in that country, that the Devil took occasion to induce them to believe that it was a god, and to worship and offer sacrifices to it. Click to view this page.

Rios 16 (21r): Tzinteotl (Centeotl)

The Holy Scripture well observes that "wine changes the heart", since it caused these people to believe that from this woman (Mayaguil) Cinteotl sprung whose name signifies the origin of the gods giving us to understand, that from the vine which bears the grape the gods derived their origin. It properly signifies abundance, satiety, or the intoxication caused by wine. Click to view this page.

Rios 17 and 18 (21v and 22r) Ninth Trecena: Tlavizcalpantecutli (Tlahuizcalpantecutli)

Tlavizcalpantecutli was the god of the morning or of the light, when the sign of the morning twilight or the crepusculum arrives, which they say was created before the sun. Here it is apparent how allusion is made to the Scriptures for our holy doctors say that light was created on the first day, and that it was distinct and separate from the sun.

This deity presided over these thirteen signs they believed that those who became lame or suffered in any limb, although but slightly, in this first sign of the Serpent would lose that limb. I cannot omit to remark, that one of the arguments which persuades me to believe that this nation descends from the Hebrews, is to see what knowledge they have of the book of Genesis for although the Devil has succeeded in mixing up so many errors, his lies are still in such a course of conformity with Catholic truth, that there is reason to believe that they have had acquaintance with this book. Since this, and the other four books which follow, which are the Pentateuch, were written by Moses, and were only found amongst the Hebrew people, there are very strong grounds for supposing that this nation proceeds from them: the manner in which they came to this country is unknown. Further proofs of this fact may be found in their frequent sacrifices and ceremonies: one amongst others was that which took place on one of the following signs of this month, called Seven Apes (Monkey). Click to view this page.

The second sign was much celebrated amongst them, on account of its being applied to nativities and they celebrated a very great festival on it, which touches and alludes to the ceremonies of the old law: on which occasion certain old men attended in the temples like priests, whose business it was, performing some ceremonies, to baptize children. They took some Picotle (Piciete-Tobacco) and having a large vessel of water near them, they made leaves of the Picotle into a bunch, and dipped it into the water, with which they sprinkled the child and after fumigating it with incense they gave it a name, taken from the sign on which it was born and they put into its hand a shield and an arrow, if it was a boy, which is what the figure of Xiuatlatl (Xiuhtecuhtli) denotes, who here represents the god of war: they also uttered over the child certain prayers in the manner of deprecations, that he might become a brave, intrepid, and courageous man.

The offering, which his parents carried to the temple, the elder priests took and divided with the other children who were in the temple, who ran it through the whole city. They say that this offering resembled the purification of the mother and her son mentioned in Leviticus. This ceremony took place four signs after the birth of the child, if the sign was fortunate for if this was not the case, or if any other unlucky sign ruled in this sign, they waited till it had passed by, and performed the ceremony on the next sign. At the time in which this offering or purification was made, one of the old men held the child in his arms whence it is plain, that either these people descend from the Hebrews, or that the Devil gave them these rites and ceremonies, to imitate those with which God was honored by his people. Certain however, that greater would have been the triumph of the accursed demon, if he had selected out of the same people a chosen people to sacrifice to him. This short digression from our narration for which the occasion was furnished by this figure, respecting which nothing more remains to be observed. Click to view this page.

Rios 19 (22v) Tenth Trecena: Tonatiuh

They paint in this manner the substance of the Sun, after having before painted its motions. A figure is represented with the earth beneath its feet, which it illuminates with this image of its rays. It was Tonatiuh, as they affirm, who conducted to heaven with acclamations the souls of those alone who died in war and on this account they paint him with these arms in his hands. He sits as a conqueror exactly opposite to the other who is near him, who is the god of hell. They allege that the cause of winter being so disagreeable is the absence of the Sun, and that summer is so delightful on account of its presence and that the return of the Sun from our zenith is nothing more than the approach of their god to confer his favors on them. He presided over these thirteen signs. They believed that those who were born on the first sign of Flint would be expert huntsmen and very illustrious persons, and that he who was born on the fifth sign of Air (Wind) would be an excellent jester. Click to view this page.

Rios 20 (23r): Miquitlantecotli (Mictlantecuhtli)

Miquitlantecotli signifies the great lord of the dead below in hell, who alone after Tonacatecotle was painted with a crown, which kind of crown was used in war even after the arrival of the Christians in those countries, and was seen in the war of Coatlan, as the person who copied these paintings relates, who was a brother of the order of Saint Dominic, named Peter de los Rios. They painted this demon near the sun: for in the same way as they believed that the one conducted souls to heaven, so they supposed that the other carried them to hell. He is here represented with his hands open and stretched towards the sun, to seize on any soul which might escape from him. Click to view this page.

Rios 21 (23v) Eleventh Trecena: Patecatle (Patecatl)

Patecatle, who was the husband of Mayaguil (Mayahuel), the woman with four hundred breasts, who was metamorphosed into the maguei plant or vine, was properly the root which they put into the water or wine which distils from the maguei in order to make it ferment: and the unhappy man to whose industry the invention of the art of making wine by causing fermentation by means of this root was due, was afterwards worshipped as a god, and became the lord of these thirteen signs all of which they considered fortunate, because the god of wine ruled over them. Note: Patecatl is substituted for a red version of Tlazolteotl in Codex Borgia. Both deities share the lunar nose ornament however. Click to view this page.

Rios 22 (24r): The Eagle and the Tiger (Jaguar)

These figures represent their sons, on whom they conferred these signs of the Eagle and the Tiger, which are the fiercest of all animals and birds, because drunken persons possess a certain degree of ferocity and courage: and accordingly, whoever received these insignia for his arms, it was a sign that he was very valiant in war, and a captain and chief of great reputation. Click to view this page.

Rios 23 (24v) Twelfth Trecena: Yztlacoliuhqui (Iztlacoliuhqui)

Yztlacoliuhqui signifies The Lord of sin or of blindness, and for this reason they paint him with his eyes bandaged. They say that he committed sin in a place of the highest enjoyment and delight, and that he remained naked on which account his first sign was a lizard, which is an animal of the ground, naked and miserable. Hence it is apparent that the same Devil who tempted our first father Adam with the Woman, and the woman Eve with the Serpent, wished to counterfeit our first father who was the origin of our blindness and misery.

He presided over these thirteen signs, which were all unlucky. They said likewise that if false evidence should be adduced on any one of these signs, it would be impossible to make the truth manifest. They put to death those who were taken in adultery before his image, if the parties were married as this not being the case, it was unlawful for them to keep as many women or concubines as they pleased. Yztlacoliuhqui is a star in heaven which, as they pretend, proceeds in a reverse course they considered it a most portentous sign, both as connected with nativities and with war. The star is situated at the south. Click to view this page.

Rios 24 (25r): (Punishment for Adultery)

This painting explains what we have mentioned above, that all those who committed adultery were stoned. The women were first strangled they were afterwards thrown into some place before the image of this god or demon, where they stoned their naked bodies. Note: Codex Borgia adds Tezcatlipoca as a patron of this trecena together with Iztlacoliuhqui. Click to view this page.

Rios 25 (25v) Thirteenth Trecena: Yxcuina (Ixcuina)

They say that Yxcuina, who was the goddess of Shame, protected adulterers. She was the goddess of salt, of dirt, and of immodesty: they painted her with two faces, or with two different colors on the face. She was the wife of Miquitlantecotli, the god of hell: she was also the goddess of prostitutes and she presided over these thirteen signs, which were unlucky, and accordingly they believed that those who were born in these signs would be rogues or prostitutes. Click to view this page.

They paint Tezcatlipoca with the feet of a man and of a cock, as they say his name bears allusion to this circumstance. He is clothed with a fowl, which seems to cry in laughing accents and when it crows O‡, O‡, O‡, they say that it deceived the first woman who committed sin and accordingly they paint him near the goddess of pollution, to signify that in the same way as Satan is in expectation of all sinners, so pollution is the cause of them. Click to view this page.

Rios 27 (26v) Fourteenth Trecena: Thipetotec (Xipe Totec)

Thipetotec is he whom we have mentioned above as performing penance, like another Quetzalcoatle, on the mountain of thorns. They named him The Mournful Combatant: they celebrated a great festival in his honor, which they called Tlaxipehualiztli (Tlacaxipehualiztli).

He was one of the gods of the Tzapotecas (Zapotecs). They dressed themselves on his festival in human skins taken from those whom they had slain in war because they say that he was the first who clothed himself in this manner. They fasted on the three first signs of his festival, during which they only ate at noon. The priests, on the signs in which they celebrated the fast, proceeded begging alms through the city, and ate nothing more than that which they received, whether it was little or much. On every sign dedicated to fasting the men separated themselves from their wives. On this sign of Four Canes (Reed) they conferred dignities on the princes of the people but they esteemed the three preceding signs, which are One Cane (Reed), Two Apes (Monkey), Three Herbs (Grass), as unlucky omens. The remainder of the thirteen signs were all good. Click to view this page.

Rios 28 (27r): Quetzalcoatle

This is the figure of Quetzalcoatle, the companion of Totec. They paint him in this manner to signify that this was a festival of great fear, which is the reason why they paint this serpent in the act of devouring a man alive. Click to view this page.

Rios 29 (27v) Fifteenth Trecena: Yxpapalotl (Itzpapalotl)

Yxpapalotl signifies a Knife of Butterflies (Obsidian Butterfly). He (She) was one of those gods who, as they affirm, were expelled from heaven and on this account they paint him (her) surrounded with knives, and wings of butterflies. They represent him with the feet of an eagle because they say that he (she) occasionally appears to them, and that they only see the feet of an eagle. They further add, that being in a garden of delight he (she) pulled some roses, but that suddenly the tree broke, and blood streamed from it and that in consequence of this they were deprived of that place of enjoyment, and were cast into this world, because Tonacatecutli and his wife became incensed and accordingly they came some of them to the earth, and others went to hell.

He (she) presided over these thirteen signs the first of which, the House, they considered unfortunate, because they said that demons came through the air on that sign, in the figure of women such as we designate witches, who usually went to the highways where they met in the form of a cross, and to solitary places and accordingly, that when any bad woman wished to absolve herself or her sins and to do penance, she went alone by night to these places, and took off her garments, and sacrificed there with her tongue, and left the clothes which she carried, and returned home naked, as a sign of the confession of her sins. He was called, before he sinned Xomunco, and afterwards, Yxpapalotl, which signifies a knife of razors. Click to view this page.

This is the rose-tree called Xuitlicastan. As they intended to show that this was a feast rather of fear than of love, they painted this tree distilling blood. The gods who were cast from that place were those alone, as they declare, who inspired them with fear. Click to view this page.

Rios 31 (29v) Sixteenth Trecena: Xolotle (Xolotl)

They believed that Xolotle to be the god of monstrous productions and of twins, which are such things as grow double. He was one of the seven who remained after the deluge and he presided over these thirteen signs, which they usually considered unlucky: but they said that he who was born on the seventh sign of Air (Wind) would be rich, but that those who were born on the other signs would be spies and imposters. Click to view this page.

Rios 32 (30r): Tlaclitonatio (Tlachitonatiuh), or light

The signification of this name is Fiat Lux, Let there be light, and darkness, which we call the crepusculum: accordingly they represent the rotundity of the earth by the symbol of a man, with the sun over his shoulders and darkness and death beneath his feet denoting that when the sun sets, it goes to warm and give light to the dead. Click to view this page.

Rios 33 (28v) Seventeenth Trecena: Chalchiuhtottoli (Chalchiuhtototl) the same as Tezcatlipoca.

The picture represents Tezcatlipoca, the meaning of whose name is Mirror which casts forth smoke. They paint him in this manner but whenever the Devil appears to them, they only see the feet of an eagle or a cock. He presided over these thirteen signs. They believed that he who was born on the sign Five Canes (Reed) would be afflicted with pains in the heart, which would be incurable. This sign was applied to the moon, and women in certain indispositions sacrifices on this sign to it. Click to view this page.

This painting represents the sacrifice which they performed to the Devil with human blood and the bag of incense, and other things requisite for the sacrifice. Click to view this page.

Rios 35 (30v) Eighteenth Trecena: Cantico (Chantico)

Cantico they say was the first who offered sacrifice after having eaten a fried fish and that in consequence of the presumption of offering sacrifice without having fasted, Tonacatecuhtli became incensed, and pronounced a curse against him (her), that he (she) should be changed into a dog, which is an animal of a very voracious nature and accordingly they named him (her) Nine Dogs. He (she) presided over these thirteen signs. They said that he who was born on the first sign of Air (Wind) would be healthy by his nativity but that if he grew ill of pains or cancer, that his disease would be incurable. He who was born on the ninth sign they believed would be unfortunate, because that sign was dedicated to sorcerers and necromancers, who transformed themselves into the shapes of various animals. Click to view this page.

Opposite to Cantico they placed Quetzalcoatl, in a golden house, arrayed in precious gems, and seated as a pontiff, with a bag of incense in his hand intending to show that as the other had been punished for his gluttony, so he was honored for his abstinence and sacrifices. Click to view this page.

Rios 37 (31v) Nineteenth Trecena: Suchiquecal (Xochiquetzal)

Suchiquecal was the wife of Tzinteutl. She was the goddess of pregnant women, and of those who knew how to work and weave, for they say that she invented those two occupations. Women in a state of pregnancy offered sacrifices to her, in order not to give birth to girls because they believed that those who were born on the first sign of the eagle would be bad, but if they bore sons on that sign they would be very brave and valiant in war, and would animate others with courage to die in battle, which was that which they desired above all other things: since we have already said that those alone who died in war went to heaven, from whence many eagles came and changed themselves into the figures of boys. She presided over these thirteen signs on the seventh of which, named the First Day, they celebrated a special festival. This was the greater festival, because they celebrated on this sign the coming of the eagles. Click to view this page.

They paint the Devil Tezcatlipoca opposite this woman, as if tempting her to sin intending perhaps to signify by this, that all women who chanced to be born on the first sign (the Eagle) would be liable to temptation, since they believed that all who were born on that sign would be bad. Note: Codex Borgia substitutes an image of Ixtlilton, a black painted figure who has ash painted around his mouth and eye. By some accounts this deity is a clown and by other accounts a patron god of writing. He is also associated with gambling symbolized by the patolli board. A Mixtec deity named 4 Earthquake wears many of his attributes as well. Click to view this page.

Rios 39 (32v) Twentieth Trecena: Iztapaltotec (Itztapaltotec)

Iztapaltotec properly signifies, a large stone, or the surface of the earth, or the bloody stone of the afflicted, or placed within a razor, which is the same as a sword or fear. They represented in this manner this god with his mouth open, "ad deglutiendum hominess". He presided over these thirteen signs. They considered it fortunate to be born on the first sign of Rabbit, and that those who were born on that sign would enjoy long life, and that he who was born on Five Herbs (Grass) would be a rich merchant. Click to view this page.

The corresponding figure represents the God of Fire (Xiuhtecuhtli), who purifies the earth and renovates things and accordingly they place him last of all. They here kept a fast commemorative of the ruin of the first of the human race. I have already mentioned the reason why they painted all these figures and images here presented to us, which are twenty, each in its peculiar style which proceeded from the necessity which they were under of appearing habited in the same dress as the idol, on every occasion of celebrating with dances and other festivals the sign dedicated to it. Click to view this page.

Tonatiuh, Codex Borgia - History

Aztec Religion and Nature (Precolumbian)

In accordance with other meso-American traditions, the Aztecs experienced "nature" in all its complexity not as a mere mundane entity out there, but rather as deeply connected with superhuman powers and beings, manifesting themselves in countless aspects of the surrounding world and a sacred landscape. Earth itself, for example, could be viewed as a grand living being, and in pictorial manuscripts it is often depicted as a monstrous caiman with devouring mouth(s) hills are conceived as vessels containing subterranean waters, with caves as sacred entrance. But from the beginning of creation and the origination of life, man's activity and destiny is intertwined with an unstable interplay of living cosmic forces, according to the Aztec cosmovision, and human coping had to take place through a variety of ritual forms, since nothing would grow, nothing would endure, if "our Mother, our Father, Lord of Earth and Sun" would not be nourished continuously by ritual and sacrifice.

1) Sacred topography: from mythic origins to a new Center of the World.Narrative accounts from the Precolumbian Aztec tradition trace the history of the "Mexica" back into mythic beginnings. As in other mythic records, especially of culturally and linguistically related peoples of the Uto-Aztecan language-family, the creation(s) of man - or life, generally - took place in subterranean bowels of earth: The Mexica are said to have finally "surfaced" at, or through, "seven caves" (Chicomoztoc). Other sources speak about a primordial dwelling on an island called "Aztlan" ("White Place", "Place of Dawn/Origin"), and from this mythic location, probably somewhere in Northwestern Mexico, they started a long migration (ca. 200 years) southward in the eleventh/twelfth century. Roughly echoing the traceable history and dissemination of the Nahuatl-speaking Aztecs from North to South, these legendary wanderings led them via Coatepec (the mythic birth-place of the important tribal and warfare numen Huitzilopochtli, "Hummingbird of the Left" or "South") and the ancient Toltec City of Tollan finally to lake Texcoco (Tetzcoco) on the central plateau of Mexico, where they first dwelled near Chapultepec, and then in Tizapan. Upon Huitzilopochtli's divine advice, the new and final residence Tenochtitlan (the center of today's Mexico City) was established on a small island in lake Texcoco during the fourteenth century. Within a very short time, this shaky Aztec settlement expanded into a gigantic metropolis absorbing Tlatelolco on the neighboring island, with allied city-states on the shores, and manifested itself as the center of an impressive empire stretching already from coast to coast in the early sixteenth century.

Especially the culture-contact with the (remnants of the) Toltecs, generally admired as "the" grand culture-giving predecessors, had a major impact on the wandering Mexica, who would now look back on their former life-style as that of rough "Chichimecans", of pure hunters and gatherers. Now, upon their arrival at Tenochtitlan, they applied the construction of chinampas (the famous "floating gardens") for an abundant cultivation of crops on the muddy shores and lagoons, for example, and they adopted the Toltec sacred architecture in building huge pyramid-shaped temples. The natural location of Tenochtitlan in the middle of a salty lake also proved strategically safe for the originally small bond of Mexica, especially since the island had fountains for supply with fresh water. But with the fast growth in size, water supply became a problem for the "Tenochca" (another name for the Mexica): Accordingly, an impressive aquaeduct from the springs of Chapultepec was constructed. On the other hand, dikes had to be built and foundation walls had to be raised, since Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco had been subject to severe floods every now and then during the rainy season.

2) Cosmology, divination, and calendar. The communal life of the Tenochca, as well as the construction of their society, was deeply intertwined with religious and cosmological beliefs. Similar to other Amerindian and meso-American traditions, the Mexica believed that other worlds ("suns") had existed before this "fifth sun". Complex ritual strategies on all societal levels had to safeguard life in all its forms from the lurking dangers of chaos and destruction - dangers which, obviously, had already ruined the grand city-states of the past (Teotihuacan, Tollan). Therefore, one finds a strong notion of omnipresent peril, sometimes even pessimism, in Aztec poetry, and a strong sense that the life cycle of this sun and of the rich center of power and life in Tenochtitlan might also come to an end in the near future.

Therefore, divination, astrology and the general interpretation of "frightening omens" (tetzauitl) were important means to be warned of possible imminent perils. The famous "Book XII" of Sahagún's Historia General gives an impressive account of such "bad omens" preceding the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors (cf. opening paragraphs of Broken Spears). Before the start of any important enterprise, one would consult the "counters of days" (tonalpuhque), special priests with sound knowledge of calendars and astrology. With reference to the vigesimal (based on the number twenty) system of the tonalpohualli ("day count") calendar, one had to be careful, for example, that the baptismal ritual of a newborn child would not fall into one of the "bad" days: the "sprinkling of the head with water" (nequatequilitztli) was postponed, accordingly, until a good combination of one of the twenty day-signs and numbers (1-13) was at hand.

3) A pantheon of life-sustaining forces and divine beings. Life is perceived as continuously endangered in the Aztec cosmos, but as a guidance for coping with the hassles, challenges and dangers of life and nature, the Mexica developed a differentiated, cumulative "way of life" or "religious tradition" (verbal nouns of "to live" and "to be", like nemilitztli or tlamanitiliztli, are used to denote the normative tradition of "culture-religion-law"). And their huge pantheon of numina, divine powers or gods (teotl) indeed covers all aspects of cosmic forces and powers of nature with its polymorphic and often overlapping hierophanies. Some of the numina have a special, prominent status - like Huitzilopochtli and the important rain-god Tlaloc, worshipped together on Tenochtitlan's huge double-pyramid "Templo Mayor". Others serve specific functions - like Yacatecutli, "Lord in front", revered almost exclusively by the wandering merchants. In some cases, the highest source of life seems to transcend the polytheistic pantheon, and it can be addressed with singular or dual names: One striking name is Ipalnemoa(ni), "(the one) through whom one is living" (Live Giver), or Tloque Nauaque, "omnipresent one". In dual form, one can speak of Ometecutli Omeciuatl ("Lord and Lady of Duality"), denoting the ultimate ground of life and growth, as well as the great celestial source of the human 'soul': "We, being subject servants, from there our soul comes forth, when it alights, when the small ones are dropping down, their souls appear from there, Ometecutli sends them down" (cf. plate 2).Such a divine source can also be addressed as "old", "true" or "sole God" (icel teotl), or as "Father and Mother" of all gods/numina: "Mother of Gods, Father of Gods, old God, inside earth you dwell, surrounded by jewels, in blue waters, between the clouds, and in the sea". A binary aspect of the divine source of being and of natural sustenance is "Lord and Lady of our flesh" (Tonacatecutli Tonacaciuatl), bringing forth corn and all life-sustaining food.

4) The preservation of nature through ritual and sacrifice.Since the cosmic order is "shaky", according to the Aztec cosmovision, man has to preserve and safeguard this cosmos and its life-sustaining forces by continuous ritual practice. An obvious, world-wide representation of the natural forces of life is blood, and this view is very dominant and consequential in the Aztec case. As in their paradigmatic myth, when the old gods had to sacrifice themselves in the darkness of Teotihuacan, when they had to shed their own blood in order to get the fifth sun moving, in the same way it is necessary for the Mexica to keep "sun" Tonatiuh moving by a repetitive and ceaseless supply with the so-called "precious liquid" (chalchiuatl) of human blood. Likewise, several individual rituals of repentance or protection implied ritual woundings for the drawing of blood (e.g. in the ears). To be sure, blood sacrifice was not the only form of ritual the Aztecs also used flowers, burnt offerings, copal resin (incense), dance and music, but as the term chalchiuatl already implies, human blood was supposed to be the most "precious" and efficient life-sustaining offering. The extreme numbers of ritual deaths, handed down via Spanish sources appear definitely exaggerated, but there can be no doubt that human sacrifice was an important, significant and - at least in the beginning of the 16th century - quite abundant ritual method to keep the forces of nature alive. For example, a special ritual warfare, the so-called "flower war" (xochiyaoiotl) had to be institutionalized on contractual basis between the city-states of the Aztec empire, simply to meet the increasing demand for supply with captives for sacrifice.

As in other cultures, such human sacrifices seem to be dominant in case of divine beings associated with the powers of fertility, sun, rain and vegetation. - The tribal god Huitzilopochtli clearly carries solar traits (apart from warfare), and his myth tells of a primordial sacrifice, when he killed his lunar sister Coyolxauhqui and smashed her at the bottom of "serpent hill" (Coatepec), a myth which had to be ritually performed and re-actualized on Hutzilopochtli's festival (excavations at the bottom of Templo Mayor uncovered a huge relief plate with her smashed body). - The distinct sun-god, however, was "Sun" Tonatiuh, often depicted with red face and body. Burnt offerings, flowers, and especially human sacrifices were used to keep "Sun" on course. Tonatiuh was supposed to dwell in the "house of the sun in the sky" (ichan tonatiuh ilhuicac), a paradisiacal place and a very attractive postmortal region. In Aztec faith, the form of afterlife was solely determined by the form of death, and not by any moral behavior. All warriors who died on the battlefield and all the ritually sacrificed ones would be allowed into this solar paradise - as well as all women who died during confinement, since they were looked upon as warriors "acting in the form of a woman". They accompany the sun daily, and after some time they would be transformed into various beautiful birds or butterflies: like hummingbirds, they would be sucking the flowers in the sky and on the earth. - Tlaloc is the second most important god of the Aztec pantheon, representing earth's fertility through water and rain. Accordingly, his nature - as well as that of his wife Chalchihuitlicue - was ambiguous, like the nature of water itself (fertilizing or flooding). As in the case of Tonatiuh, another distinct postmortal region was associated with this deity in the rain-cloudy hills (tlalocan): All people who died in floods or thunderstorms (e.g. by lightning), or in connection with festering wounds (i.e. liquid), would proceed into Tlaloc's paradise with permanent summer and abundant vegetation.

(3) Tlazolteotl (with flayed skin) gives birth to Cinteotl
(Codex Borbonicus)
5) Earth's vegetation, plants and flowers. Within the agricultural context of Aztec society, the different forms of vegetation - as well as their divine representations - had a prominent status in ritual. The god Xipe Totec ("Our Lord Flayer", "Our Flayed Lord"), generically representing spring and vegetation, was mostly depicted wearing a flayed human skin - a lucid symbolic representation of earth's new "skin of vegetation" in spring, but also a clear hint to the ritual flaying of human victims related to this godhead. Such bloody rituals took place on the festival Tlacaxipeualitztli ("flaying of people"), where captives were skinned and their hearts were cut out, presented up to the sun in order to "nourish" the sun, whilst the living "images" or "impersonators" of Xipe Totec, called Xipeme, would walk around, wearing the skin of the flayed ones. - Among the female deities, those of earth, fertility, sexuality and destruction are the most important. There are Mother of Earth or "Mother of Gods" (Teteoinnan) deities, such as the old (Huaxtecan) earth deity Tlazolteotl ("Eater of Filth"), associated with procreative powers and lust, and important in rituals for repenting adultery, fornication etc., Xochiquetzal, representing love and desire, and associated with flowers and festivals, or Coatlique (Huitzilopochtli's mother), with devouring, destructive aspects. Tlazolteotl (cf. Plate 3) can also be depicted with a flayed human skin (like Xipe Totec), and her ixiptlatli was ritually flayed in the 'thanksgiving' festival of autumn, where she - after meeting with the sun - gave birth to the corn god in a ritual drama.

Several major plants were personified by special numina. The culturally important maize (cintli), for example, had male and female divine representations, like "Corn God" Cinteotl (or Centeotl) and, among others, Chicome Coatl ("Seven Snake"), a prominent goddess and generic embodiment of edibles. Goddess Mayauel represented agave and, together with other specific pulque-numina, its fermented product, pulque (octli). But as a matter of fact, the Aztecs were very rigid in allowing access to alcohol, its abundant use being restricted to elder citizens. - Apart from feathers (esp. of the beautiful Quetzal bird) or jade, flowers (xochitl) were of special aesthetic and metaphoric significance in the Aztec culture. Cultivated in rich abundance and serving as a common ritual donation, flowers were not only synonymous with "joy", but also with "songs". Hence, the flower theme appears in many lyrics (Cantares Mexicanos): especially in the "flower song" (xochi-cuicatl) and "bereavement song" (icno-cuicatl) dealing with death, impermanence and the recreation of life through music and dance.

Be pleasured for a moment
with our songs, O friends.
You sing adeptly, scattering,
dispersing drum plumes,
and the flowers are golden.

The songs we lift here on earth
are fresh. The flowers are fresh.
Let them come and lie in our hands.
Let there be pleasure with these, O friends.
Let our pain and sadness
be destroyed with these. .

Only here on earth, O friends,
do we come to do our borrowing.
We go away and and leave
these good songs.

We go away and leave these flowers.
Your songs make me sad, O Life Giver,
for we’re to go away and leave them,
these, these good songs.

Flowers are sprouting, reviving,
budding, blossoming.
Song flowers flow from within you.
You scatter them over us,
you’re spreading them, you singer!
Be pleasured, friends!
Let there be dancing
in the house of flowers,
where I sing - I, the singer.

Let there be flower-singing,
singing with my brothers!
Intoxicating flowers have arrived,
narcotic adornments come in glory.
Let there be flowers. They have arrived.
Pleasure flowers are dispersed, they
flutter down, all kinds of flowers.
The drum resounds. Let there be dancing.

I am the singer, and my heart is painted
with a plumelike narcotic.
Downfluttering flowers are taken up.
Be pleasured.
Song flowers are bursting in my heart,
and I disperse these flowers.

6) Underworld, death and Tenochtitlan's final destruction.According to Aztec cosmology, all the 'normal' dead - even the great kings - had to go to Mictlan, a subterranean place of unattractive afterlife with dark and rather frightening features. The inevitable destiny of this "mysterious land", or "land of no return", inspired many songs: "No one is to live on earth. . Will you go with me to the Place Unknown? Ah, I am not to carry off these flowers, singer that I am. Be pleasured. You're hearing my songs. Ah, singer that I am, I weep that the songs are not taken to His Home, the good flowers are not carried down to Mictlan, there, ah there, beyond the whirled ones". In several of these songs, the vulnerable nature of life on earth and the inescapable character of death appears combined with the sense of a deep remoteness of God: "We will depart! I, Nezahualcoyotl, say: 'Be cheerful!' Do we truly 'live' on earth? Not for all time on this earth, but only for a little while. There is jade, too, but it crushes, even gold breaks, ah, Quetzal-feathers crack. Not forever on this earth. . What does Ipalnemoa [Life Giver] say? Not any more, in this moment, is he, God, on his mat. He is gone, and he left you behind as an orphan . ".

A Song of Sorrow ( icnocuicatl)

We know it is true that we must perish,
for we are mortal men.
You, the Giver of Life, you have ordained it.

We wander here and there
in our desolate poverty.
We are mortal men.
We have seen bloodshed and pain,
where once we saw beauty and valor.

We are crushed to the ground,
we lie in ruins in Mexico and Tlatelolco,
where once we saw beauty and valor.
Have you grown weary of your servants,

are you angry with your servants,
O Giver of Life?

The Fall of Tenochtitlan/Tlatelolco

Our cries of grief rise up, and our
tears rain down - for Tlatelolco is lost.
The Aztecs are fleeing across the lake,
they are running away like women.

How can we save our homes, my people?
The Aztecs are deserting the city,
the city is in flames,
and all is darkness and destruction.


R. Gordon Wasson has posited that the plant known as pipiltzintzintli is in fact Salvia divinorum. It's not entirely known whether or not this plant was used by the Aztecs as a psychotropic, but Jonathan Ott (1996) argues that although there are competing species for the identification of pipiltzintzintli, Salvia divinorum is probably the "best bet." There are references to use of pipiltzintzintli in Spanish arrest records from the conquest, as well as a reference to the mixing of ololiuqui with pipiltzintzintli.

Contemporaneously, the Mazatec, meaning "people of the deer" in Nahuatl, from the Oaxaca region of Mexico utilize Salvia divinorum when Psilocybe spp. mushrooms are not readily available. They chew quids of fresh salvia leaves to enter into a shamanic state of consciousness. The Mazatec use the plant in both divination and healing ceremonies, perhaps as the Aztecs did 500 years ago.

Watch the video: Itzamkan - Danza Del Fuego Nuevo (August 2022).