|Military · Codices|
|La Noche Triste|
|Spanish conquest of Mexico|
The Aztec or Mexica calendar is the calendrical system used by the Aztecs as well as other Pre-Columbian peoples of central Mexico. It is one of the Mesoamerican calendars, sharing the basic structure of calendars from throughout ancient Mesoamerica.
The Aztec sun stone, also called the calendar stone, is on display at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. The calendar consists of a 365-day calendar cycle called xiuhpōhualli (year count) and a 260-day ritual cycle called tōnalpōhualli (day count). These two cycles together form a 52-year "century", sometimes called the "calendar round". The xiuhpōhualli is considered to be the agricultural calendar, since it is based on the sun, and the tōnalpōhualli is considered to be the sacred calendar.
The tōnalpōhualli ("day count") consists of a cycle of 260 days, each day signified by a combination of a number from 1 to 13, and one of the twenty day signs. With each new day, both the number and day sign would be incremented: 1 Crocodile is followed by 2 Wind, 3 House, 4 Lizard, and so forth up to 13 Reed, after which the cycle of numbers would restart (though the twenty day signs had not yet been exhausted) resulting in 1 Jaguar, 2 Eagle, and so on, as the days immediately following 13 Reed. This cycle of number and day signs would continue similarly until the 20th week, which would start on 1 Rabbit, and end on 13 Flower. It would take a full 260 days (13×20) for the two cycles (of twenty day signs, and thirteen numbers) to realign and repeat the sequence back on 1 Crocodile.
The set of day signs used in central Mexico is identical to that used by Mixtecs, and to a lesser degree similar to those of other Mesoamerican calendars. Each of the day signs also bears an association with one of the four cardinal directions.
There is some variation in the way the day signs were drawn or carved. Those here were taken from the Codex Magliabechiano .
Wind and Rain are represented by images of their associated gods, Ehēcatl and Tlāloc respectively.
Other marks on the stone showed the current world and also the worlds before this one. Each world was called a sun, and each sun had its own species of inhabitants. The Aztecs believed that they were in the Fifth Sun and like all of the suns before them they would also eventually perish due to their own imperfections. Every 52 years was marked out because they believed that 52 years was a life cycle and at the end of any given life cycle the gods could take away all that they have and destroy the world.
The 260 days of the sacred calendar were grouped into twenty periods of 13 days each. Scholars usually refer to these thirteen-day "weeks" as trecenas , using a Spanish term derived from trece "thirteen" (just as the Spanish term docena "dozen" is derived from doce "twelve"). The original Nahuatl term is not known.
Each trecena is named according to the calendar date of the first day of the 13 days in that trecena. In addition, each of the twenty trecenas in the 260-day cycle had its own tutelary deity:
|1 Crocodile||Tonacatecuhtli||1 Monkey||Patecatl|
|1 Jaguar||Quetzalcoatl||1 Lizard||Itztlacoliuhqui|
|1 Deer||Tepēyōllōtl||1 Quake||Tlazōlteōtl|
|1 Flower||Huēhuecoyōtl||1 Dog||Xīpe Totēc|
|1 Reed||Chalchiuhtlicue||1 House||Ītzpāpālōtl|
|1 Death||Tōnatiuh||1 Vulture||Xolotl|
|1 Rain||Tlāloc||1 Water||Chalchiuhtotolin|
|1 Grass||Mayahuel||1 Wind||Chantico|
|1 Snake||Xiuhtecuhtli||1 Eagle||Xōchiquetzal|
|1 Flint||Mictlāntēcutli||1 Rabbit||Xiuhtecuhtli|
In ancient times the year was composed of eighteen months, and thus it was observed by the native people. Since their months were made of no more than twenty days, these were all the days contained in a month, because they were not guided by the moon but by the days; therefore, the year had eighteen months. The days of the year were counted twenty by twenty.
Xiuhpōhualli is the Aztec year ( xihuitl ) count ( pōhualli ). One year consists of 360 named days and 5 nameless ( nēmontēmi ). These 'extra' days are thought to be unlucky. The year was broken into 18 periods of twenty days each, sometimes compared to the Julian month. The Nahuatl word for moon is metztli but whatever name was used for these periods is unknown. Through Spanish usage, the 20-day period of the Aztec calendar has become commonly known as a veintena.
Each 20-day period started on Cipactli (Crocodile) for which a festival was held. The eighteen veintena are listed below. The dates are from early eyewitnesses; each wrote what they saw. Bernardino de Sahagún 's date precedes the observations of Diego Durán by several decades and is before recent to the surrender. Both are shown to emphasize the fact that the beginning of the Native new year became non-uniform as a result of an absence of the unifying force of Tenochtitlan after the Mexica defeat.
|#||Durán time||Sahagún time||Fiesta names||Symbol||English translation|
|1||Mar 1 – Mar 20||Feb 2 – Feb 21||Atlcahualo, Cuauhitlehua||Ceasing of Water, Rising Trees|
|2||Mar 21 – Apr 9||Feb 22 – Mar 13||Tlacaxipehualiztli||Rites of Fertility; Xipe-Totec ("the flayed one")|
|3||Apr 10 – Apr 29||Mar 14 – Apr 2||Tozoztontli||Lesser Perforation|
|4||Apr 30 – May 19||Apr 3 – Apr 22||Huey Tozoztli||Greater Perforation|
|5||May 20 – Jun 8||Apr 23 – May 12||Tōxcatl||Dryness|
|6||Jun 9 – Jun 28||May 13 – Jun 1||Etzalcualiztli||Eating Maize and Beans|
|7||Jun 29 – July 18||Jun 2 – Jun 21||Tecuilhuitontli||Lesser Feast for the Revered Ones|
|8||July 19 – Aug 7||Jun 22 – Jul 11||Huey Tecuilhuitl||Greater Feast for the Revered Ones|
|9||Aug 8 – Aug 27||Jul 12 – Jul 31||Tlaxochimaco, Miccailhuitontli||Bestowal or Birth of Flowers, Feast to the Revered Deceased|
|10||Aug 28 – Sep 16||Aug 1 – Aug 20||Xócotl huetzi, Huey Miccailhuitl||Feast to the Greatly Revered Deceased|
|11||Sept 17 – Oct 6||Aug 21 – Sept 9||Ochpaniztli||Sweeping and Cleaning|
|12||Oct 7 – Oct 26||Sept 10 – Sept 29||Teotleco||Return of the Gods|
|13||Oct 27 – Nov 15||Sept 30 – Oct 19||Tepeilhuitl||Feast for the Mountains|
|14||Nov 16 – Dec 5||Oct 20 – Nov 8||Quecholli||Precious Feather|
|15||Dec 6 – Dec 25||Nov 9 – Nov 28||Pānquetzaliztli||Raising the Banners|
|16||Dec 26 – Jan 14||Nov 29 – Dec 18||Atemoztli||Descent of the Water|
|17||Jan 15 – Feb 3||Dec 19 – Jan 7||Tititl||Stretching for Growth|
|18||Feb 4 – Feb 23||Jan 8 – Jan 27||Izcalli||Encouragement for the Land & People|
|18u||Feb 24 – Feb 28||Jan 28 – Feb 1||nēmontēmi (5 day period)||Empty days (no specific activities or holidays)|
The ancient Mexicans counted their years by means of four signs combined with thirteen numbers, thus obtaining periods of 52 years,which are commonly known as Xiuhmolpilli, a popular but incorrect generic name; the most correct Nahuatl word for this cycle is Xiuhnelpilli. The table with the current years:
|Tlalpilli Tochtli||Tlalpilli Acatl||Tlalpilli Tecpatl||Tlalpilli Calli|
|1 tochtli / 1974||1 acatl / 1987||1 tecpatl / 2000||1 calli / 2013|
|2 acatl / 1975||2 tecpatl / 1988||2 calli / 2001||2 tochtli / 2014|
|3 tecpatl / 1976||3 calli / 1989||3 tochtli / 2002||3 acatl / 2015|
|4 calli / 1977||4 tochtli / 1990||4 acatl / 2003||4 tecpatl / 2016|
|5 tochtli / 1978||5 acatl / 1991||5 tecpatl / 2004||5 calli / 2017|
|6 acatl / 1979||6 tecpatl / 1992||6 calli / 2005||6 tochtli / 2018|
|7 tecpatl / 1980||7 calli / 1993||7 tochtli / 2006||7 acatl / 2019|
|8 calli / 1981||8 tochtli / 1994||8 acatl / 2007||8 tecpatl / 2020|
|9 tochtli / 1982||9 acatl / 1995||9 tecpatl / 2008||9 calli / 2021|
|10 acatl / 1983||10 tecpatl / 1996||10 calli / 2009||10 tochtli / 2022|
|11 tecpatl / 1984||11 calli / 1997||11 tochtli / 2010||11 acatl / 2023|
|12 calli / 1985||12 tochtli / 1998||12 acatl / 2011||12 tecpatl / 2024|
|13 tochtli / 1986||13 acatl / 1999||13 tecpatl / 2012||13 calli / 2025|
For many centuries scholars had tried to reconstruct the Calendar. A widely accepted version was proposed by Professor Rafael Tena of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia , based on the studies of Sahagún and Alfonso Caso of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. His correlation argues that the first day of the Mexica year was February 13 of the old Julian calendar or February 23 of the current Gregorian calendar. Using the same count, it has been the date of the birth of Huitzilopochtli, the end of the year and a cycle or "Tie of the Years", and the New Fire Ceremony, day-sign 1 Tecpatl of the year 2 Acatl, corresponding to the date February 22. A correlation by independent researcher Ruben Ochoa interprets pre-Columbian codices, to reconstruct the calendar, while ignoring most primary colonial sources that contradict this idea, using a method that proposes to connect the year count to the vernal equinox and placing the first day of the year on the first day after the equinox.
The Aztecs were a Mesoamerican culture that flourished in central Mexico in the post-classic period from 1300 to 1521. The Aztec peoples included different ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica from the 14th to the 16th centuries. Aztec culture was organized into city-states (altepetl), some of which joined to form alliances, political confederations, or empires. The Aztec Empire was a confederation of three city-states established in 1427: Tenochtitlan, city-state of the Mexica or Tenochca; Texcoco; and Tlacopan, previously part of the Tepanec empire, whose dominant power was Azcapotzalco. Although the term Aztecs is often narrowly restricted to the Mexica of Tenochtitlan, it is also broadly used to refer to Nahua polities or peoples of central Mexico in the prehispanic era, as well as the Spanish colonial era (1521–1821). The definitions of Aztec and Aztecs have long been the topic of scholarly discussion ever since German scientist Alexander von Humboldt established its common usage in the early 19th century.
In Aztec mythology, Huitzilopochtli is the deity of war, sun, human sacrifice, and the patron of the city of Tenochtitlan. He was also the tribal god of the Mexicas, also known as the Aztecs, of Tenochtitlan. Many in the pantheon of deities of the Aztecs were inclined to have a fondness for a particular aspect of warfare. However, Huitzilopochtli was known as the primary god of war in ancient Mexico. Since he was the patron god of the Mexica, he was credited with both the victories and defeats that the Mexica people had on the battlefield. The people had to make sacrifices to him to protect the Aztec from infinite night. He wielded Xiuhcoatl, the fire serpent, as a weapon, thus also associating Huitzilopochtli with fire.
The Maya calendar is a system of calendars used in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and in many modern communities in the Guatemalan highlands, Veracruz, Oaxaca and Chiapas, Mexico.
Tamoanchan[tamoˈant͡ʃan] is a mythical location of origin known to the Mesoamerican cultures of the central Mexican region in the Late Postclassic period. In the mythological traditions and creation accounts of Late Postclassic peoples such as the Aztec, Tamoanchan was conceived as a paradise where the gods created the first of the present human race out of sacrificed blood and ground human bones which had been stolen from the Underworld of Mictlan.
Not to be confused with Aztatlán, a culture and trade network spanning Sinaloa to Colima contemporaneous with Tarascan culture.
Tzolkʼin is the name bestowed by Mayanists on the 260-day Mesoamerican calendar originated by the Maya civilization of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.
Mesoamerican calendars are the calendrical systems devised and used by the pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica. Besides keeping time, Mesoamerican calendars were also used in religious observances and social rituals, such as for divination.
The tōnalpōhualli, meaning "count of days" in Nahuatl, is a Mexica version of the 260-day calendar in use in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. This calendar is solar and consists of 20 13-day periods. Each trecena is ruled by a different deity. Graphic representations for the twenty day names have existed among certain ethnic, linguistic, or archaeologically identified peoples.
A trecena is a 13-day period used in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican calendars. The 260-day calendar was divided into 20 trecenas. Trecena is derived from the Spanish chroniclers and translates to "a group of thirteen" in the same way that a dozen relates to the number twelve. It is associated with the Aztecs, but is called different names in the calendars of the Maya, Zapotec, Mixtec, and others of the region.
A veintena is the Spanish-derived name for a 20-day period used in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican calendars. The division is often casually referred to as a "month", although it is not coordinated with the lunar cycle. The term is most frequently used with respect to the 365-day Aztec calendar, the xiuhpohualli, although 20-day periods are also used in the 365-day Maya calendar, as well as by other Mesoamerican civilizations such as the Zapotec and Mixtec.
Macuiltochtli is one of the five deities from Aztec and other central Mexican pre-Columbian mythological traditions who, known collectively as the Ahuiateteo, symbolized excess, over-indulgence and the attendant punishments and consequences thereof.
The Codex Magliabechiano is a pictorial Aztec codex created during the mid-16th century, in the early Spanish colonial period. It is representative of a set of codices known collectively as the Magliabechiano Group. The Codex Magliabechiano is based on an earlier unknown codex, which is assumed to have been the prototype for the Magliabechiano Group. It is named after Antonio Magliabechi, a 17th-century Italian manuscript collector, and is held in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Florence, Italy.
The Codex Borbonicus is an Aztec codex written by Aztec priests shortly before or after the Spanish conquest of Mexico. It is named after the Palais Bourbon in France and kept at the Bibliothèque de l'Assemblée Nationale in Paris. The codex is an outstanding example of how Aztec manuscript painting is crucial for the understanding of Mexica calendric constructions, deities, and ritual actions. In 2004 Maarten Jansen and Gabina Aurora Pérez Jiménez proposed that it be given the indigenous name Codex Cihuacoatl, after the goddess Cihuacoatl.
The tonalamatl[toːnaˈlaːmatɬ] is a divinatory almanac used in central Mexico in the decades, and perhaps centuries, leading up to the Spanish conquest. The word itself is Nahuatl in origin, meaning "pages of days".
The Xiuhpōhualli is a 365-day calendar used by the Aztecs and other pre-Columbian Nahua peoples in central Mexico. It is composed of eighteen 20-day "months," called veintenas or mētztli with a separate 5-day period at the end of the year called the nemontemi. Whatever name that was used for these periods in pre-Columbian times is unknown. Through Spanish usage, the 20-day period of the Aztec calendar has become commonly known as a veintena. The Aztec word for moon is mētztli, and this word is today to describe these 20-day periods, although as the sixteenth-century missionary and early ethnographer, Diego Durán explained:
In ancient times the year was composed of eighteen months, and thus it was observed by these Indian people. Since their months were made of no more than twenty days, these were all the days contained in a month, because they were not guided by the moon but by the days; therefore, the year had eighteen months. The days of the year were counted twenty by twenty.
The Mesoamerican Long Count calendar is a non-repeating, vigesimal (base 20) and octodecimal (base 18) calendar used by several pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures, most notably the Maya. For this reason, it is often known as the MayaLong Count calendar. Using a modified vigesimal tally, the Long Count calendar identifies a day by counting the number of days passed since a mythical creation date that corresponds to August 11, 3114 BCE in the Proleptic Gregorian calendar. The Long Count calendar was widely used on monuments.
Toxcatl was the name of the fifth twenty-day month or "veintena" of the Aztec calendar which lasted from approximately the 5th to 22 May and of the festival which was held every year in this month. The Festival of Toxcatl was dedicated to the god Tezcatlipoca and featured the sacrifice of a young man who had been impersonating the deity for a full year.
Codex Vaticanus B, also known as Codex Vaticanus 3773, Codice Vaticano Rituale, and Códice Fábrega, is a pre-Columbian Middle American pictorial manuscript, probably from the Puebla part of the Mixtec region, with a ritual and calendrical content. It is a member of the Borgia Group of manuscripts. It is currently housed at the Vatican Library.
The Mexica New Year is the celebration of the new year according to the Aztec calendar. The date on which the holiday falls in the Gregorian calendar depends on the version of the calendar used, but it is generally considered to occur at sunrise on 12 March. The holiday is observed in some Nahua communities in Mexico. To celebrate, ocote (pitch-pine) candles are lit on the eve of the new year, along with fireworks, drumming, and singing. Some of the most important events occur in Huauchinango, Naupan, Mexico City, Zongolica, and Xicotepec.
In the Aztec culture, the Nahuatl word nēmontēmi refers to a period of five intercalary days inserted between the 360 days labeled with numbers and day-names in the main part of the Aztec seasonal calendar. Their location was roughly around 5–18 April every Gregorian year.