|Ethnic group||Aztec (Nahua)|
|Parents||Created by the Tezcatlipocas (Codex Zumarraga)|
|Consort||Tlalcihuatl as female form (Codex Zumarraga)|
|Children||• With Tlalcihuatl: Coatlicue, Chimalma, Xochitlicue (Codex Ríos)|
Tlaltecuhtli (Classical Nahuatl Tlāltēuctli, Nahuatl pronunciation: [t͡ɬaːl.teːkʷ.t͡ɬi] ) is a pre-Columbian Mesoamerican deity worshipped primarily by the Mexica (Aztec) people. Sometimes referred to as the "earth monster," Tlaltecuhtli's dismembered body was the basis for the world in the Aztec creation story of the fifth and final cosmos. In carvings, Tlaltecuhtli is often depicted as an anthropomorphic being with splayed arms and legs. Considered the source of all living things, he had to be kept sated by human sacrifices which would ensure the continued order of the world.
According to a source, in the creation of the Earth, the gods did not tire of admiring the liquid world, no oscillations, no movements, so Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl thought that the newly created world should be inhabited. And for this, they made Tlalcihuatl, 'Lady of the earth', come down from heaven, and Tlaltecuhtli, 'Lord of the earth', would be her consort.Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl create the Earth from the body of Cipactli, a giant alligator self-created in the Omeyocan.
Tlaltecuhtli is known from several post-conquest manuscripts that surveyed Mexica mythology and belief systems, such as the Histoyre du méchique,Florentine Codex, and Codex Bodley, both compiled in the sixteenth century.
Tlaltecuhtli is typically depicted as a squatting toad-like creature with massive claws, a gaping mouth, and crocodile skin, which represented the surface of the earth. In carvings, her mouth is often shown with a river of blood flowing from it or a flint knife between her teeth, a reference to the human blood she thirsted for. Her elbows and knees are often adorned with human skulls, and she sometimes appears with multiple mouths full of sharp teeth all over her body. In some images, she wears a skirt made of human bones and a star border, a symbol of her primordial sacrifice.
Many sculptures of Tlaltecuhtli were meant only for the gods and were not intended to be seen by humans. She was often carved onto the bottom of sculptures where they made contact with the earth, or on the undersides of stone boxes called cuauhxicalli ("eagle box"), which held the sacrificial hearts she was so partial to. In reference to her mythological function as the support of the earth, Tlaltecuhtli was sometimes carved onto the cornerstones of temples, such as the pyramid platform at El Tajin.
Tlaltecuhtli's importance in the Mexica pantheon is demonstrated by her inclusion in major works of art. A representation of the goddess can be found on each side of the 1503 CE Coronation Stone of the Aztec ruler Moctezuma II, alongside the glyphs for fire and water — traditional symbols of war. Historian Mary Miller even suggests that Tlaltecuhtli may be the face in the center of the famous Aztec Calendar Stone (Piedra del Sol), where she symbolizes the end of the 5th and final Aztec cosmos.
Tlaltecuhtli appears in the Aztec calendar as the 2nd of the 13 deity days, and her date glyph is 1 Rabbit.
According to Alfonso Caso,there were four earth gods — Tlaltecuhtli, Coatlicue, Cihuacoatl and Tlazolteotl.
In the Mexica creation story, Tlaltecuhtli is described as a sea monster (sometimes called Cipactli) who dwelled in the ocean after the fourth Great Flood. She was an embodiment of the chaos that raged before creation.One day, the gods Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca descended from the heavens in the form of serpents and found the monstrous Tlaltecuhtli (Cipactli) sitting on top of the ocean with giant fangs, crocodile skin, and gnashing teeth calling for flesh to feast on. The two gods decided that the fifth cosmos could not prosper with such a horrible creature roaming the world, and so they set out to destroy her. To attract her, Tezcatlipoca used his foot as bait, and Tlaltecuhtli ate it. In the fight that followed, Tezcatlipoca lost his foot and Tlaltecuhtli lost her lower jaw, taking away her ability to sink below the surface of the water. After a long struggle, Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl managed to rip her body in two — from the upper half came the sky, and from the lower came the earth. She remained alive, however, and demanded human blood as repayment for her sacrifice.
The other gods were angered to hear of Tlaltecuhtli's treatment and decreed that the various parts of her dismembered body would become the features of the new world. Her skin became grasses and small flowers, her hair the trees and herbs, her eyes the springs and wells, her nose the hills and valleys, her shoulders the mountains, and her mouth the caves and rivers.
According to a source, all the deities of the earth are female, except the advocation of Tezcatlipoca, which is Tepeyollotl, 'heart of the hill', and Tlaltecuthli, 'lord earth', which the latter is formed by the center of the body of Cipactli, which is It owes its other name, Tlalticpaque, 'lord of the world'. Tlaltecuhtli meets Coatlicue as a consort as the devourer, and Coatlicue as the one who gives continuous birth to new beings, men and animals.
Since Tlaltecuhtli's body was transformed into the geographical features, the Mexica attributed strange sounds from the earth as either the screams of Tlaltecuhtli in her dismembered agony, or her calls for human blood to feed her. As a source of life, it was thought necessary to appease Tlaltecuhtli with blood sacrifices, especially human hearts. The Aztecs believed that Tlatlecuhtli's insatiable appetite had to be satisfied or the goddess would cease her nourishment of the earth and crops would fail.
The Mexica believe Tlaltecuhtli to swallow the sun between her massive jaws at dusk, and regurgitate it the next morning at dawn. The fear that this cycle could be interrupted, like during solar eclipses, was often the cause of uneasiness and increased ritual sacrifice.Tlaltecuhtli's connection to the sun ensured that she was included in the prayers offered to Tezcatlipoca before Aztec military campaigns.
Finally, because of Tlatlecuhtli's association with fertility, midwives called on her aid during difficult births—when an "infant warrior" threatened to kill the mother during labor.
One of the largest modern debates surrounding Tlaltecuhtli is over the deity's gender. In English, "tlal-" translates to "earth," and "tecuhtli" is usually rendered "lord." However, "teuctli" (like most words in Nahuatl) has no gender, despite normally being used to describe men or male gods. There are notable exceptions—for example, the goddesses Ilamatecuhtli and Chalmecatecuhtli.In the Huehuetlahtolli collected by Horacio Carochi in the early 17th century (known as The Bancroft Dialogues), it's clear that "tēuctli" doesn't mean "lord" or "señor." Those are just approximations to the genderless Nahuatl title. A better rendering is "esteemed personage" or "noble." In fact, in The Bancroft Dialogues, older women are addressed as "notēcuiyo" or "my noble" several times.
While Tlaltecuhtli's name may be interpreted as masculine, the deity is most often depicted with female characteristics and clothing. According to Miller, "Tlaltecuhtli literally means 'Earth Lord,' but most Aztec representations clearly depict this creature as female, and despite the expected male gender of the name, some sources call Tlaltecuhtli a goddess. [She is] usually in a hocker, or birth-giving squat, with head flung backwards and her mouth of flint blades open."
Other scholars, like Alfonso Caso, interpret this pose as a male Tlaltecuhtli crouching under the earth with his mouth wide open, waiting to devour the dead.While Tlaltecuhtli is usually portrayed as female, some depictions are clearly male (though these distinctions may at times arise from the Spanish-language gendering process). H.B. Nicholson writes, "most of the available evidence suggests that... the earth monster in the mamazouhticac position was conceived to be female and depicted wearing the costume proper to that sex. A male aspect of that deity was also recognized and occasionally represented in appropriate garb—but was apparently quite subordinate to the more fundamental and pervasive female conception."
This ambiguity has prompted some scholars to argue that Tlaltecuhtli may have possessed a dual gender like several other Mesoamerican primordial deities. In Bernardino Sahagún's Florentine Codex, for example, Tlaltecuhtli is invoked as in tonan in tota —"our mother, our father"—and the deity is described as both a god and a goddess.Rather than signal hermaphroditism or androgyny, archaeologist Leonardo Lopez Lujan suggests that these varying embodiments are a testament to the deity's importance in the Mexica pantheon.
In 2006, a massive monolith of Tlaltecuhtli was discovered in an excavation at the Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan (modern-day Mexico City).The sculpture measures approximately 13.1 x 11.8 feet (4 x 3.6 meters) and weighs nearly 12 tons, making it one of the largest Aztec monoliths ever discovered—larger even than the Calendar Stone. The sculpture, carved in a block of pink andesite, presents the goddess in her typical squatting position and is vividly painted in red, white, black, and blue. The stone was found by archaeologists broken into 4 pieces. Reassembled, Tlaltecuhtli's skull and bones skirt, and the river of blood flowing from her mouth, can be seen.
Though most renderings of Tlaltecuhtli were placed face down, this monolith was found face up. Clutched in her lower right claw is the year glyph for 10 rabbit (1502 CE). Lopez Lujan noted that according to the surviving codices, 1502 was the year that one of the empire's most feared rulers, Ahuitzotl, was laid to rest.Just below this monument, Offering 126 was found, a huge dedicatory deposit containing 12 thousand objects.
After several years of excavation and restoration, the monolith can be seen on display at the Museum of the Templo Mayor in Mexico City.
Aztec mythology is the body or collection of myths of the Aztec civilization of Central Mexico. The Aztecs were Nahuatl-speaking groups living in central Mexico and much of their mythology is similar to that of other Mesoamerican cultures. According to legend, the various groups who were to become the Aztecs arrived from the north into the Anahuac valley around Lake Texcoco. The location of this valley and lake of destination is clear – it is the heart of modern Mexico City – but little can be known with certainty about the origin of the Aztec. There are different accounts of their origin. In the myth the ancestors of the Mexica/Aztec came from a place in the north called Aztlan, the last of seven nahuatlacas to make the journey southward, hence their name "Azteca." Other accounts cite their origin in Chicomoztoc, "the place of the seven caves", or at Tamoanchan.
The Aztecs were a Mesoamerican culture that flourished in central Mexico in the post-classic period from 1300 to 1521. The Aztec people 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.
Tezcatlipoca or Tezcatl Ipoca was a central deity in Aztec religion. He is associated with a variety of concepts, including the night sky, hurricanes, obsidian, and conflict. He was considered one of the four sons of Ometecuhtli and Omecihuatl, the primordial dual deity. His main festival was Toxcatl, which, like most religious festivals of Aztec culture, involved human sacrifice.
Mictlan is the underworld of Aztec mythology. Most people who die would travel to Mictlan, although other possibilities exist. Mictlan consists of nine distinct levels.
Coatlicue, wife of Mixcōhuātl, also known as Tēteoh īnnān is the Aztec goddess who gave birth to the moon, stars, and Huītzilōpōchtli, the god of the sun and war. The goddesses Toci "our grandmother" and Cihuacōātl "snake woman", the patron of women who die in childbirth, were also seen as aspects of Cōātlīcue.
Huitzilopochtli is the solar and war deity of sacrifice in Aztec religion. He was also the patron god of the Aztecs and their capital city, Tenochtitlan. He wielded Xiuhcoatl, the fire serpent, as a weapon, thus also associating Huitzilopochtli with fire.
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Mixcoatl, or Camaxtle or Camaxtli, was the god of the hunt and identified with the Milky Way, the stars, and the heavens in several Mesoamerican cultures. He was the patron deity of the Otomi, the Chichimecs, and several groups that claimed descent from the Chichimecs. Under the name of Camaxtli, Mixcoatl was worshipped as the central deity of Huejotzingo and Tlaxcala.
Cipactli was the first day of the Aztec divinatory count of 13 X 20 days and Cipactonal "Sign of Cipactli" was considered to have been the first diviner. In Aztec cosmology, the crocodile symbolized the earth floating in the primeval waters. According to one Aztec tradition, Teocipactli "Divine Crocodile" was the name of a survivor of the flood who rescued himself in a canoe and again repopulated the earth. In the Mixtec Vienna Codex, Crocodile is a day associated with dynastic beginnings.
In Aztec mythology, Tōnacācihuātl was a creator and goddess of fertility, worshiped for peopling the earth and making it fruitful. Most Colonial-era manuscripts equate her with Ōmecihuātl. Tōnacācihuātl was the consort of Tōnacātēcuhtli. She is also referred to as Ilhuicacihuātl or "Heavenly Lady."
In Aztec mythology, the Centzonmīmixcōah are the gods of the northern stars. They are sons of Camaxtle-Mixcoatl with the Earth Goddess, according to the Codex Ramírez, or Tonatiuh with Chalchiuhtlicue, the goddess of the seas.
In creation myths, the term "Five Suns" refers to the belief of certain Nahua cultures and Aztec peoples that the world has gone through five distinct cycles of creation and destruction, with the current era being the fifth. It is primarily derived from a combination of myths, cosmologies, and eschatological beliefs that were originally held by pre-Columbian peoples in the Mesoamerican region, including central Mexico, and it is part of a larger mythology of Fifth World or Fifth Sun beliefs.
Toci is a deity figuring prominently in the religion and mythology of the pre-Columbian Aztec civilization of Mesoamerica. In Aztec mythology, she is seen as an aspect of the mother goddess Coatlicue or Xochitlicue and is thus labeled “mother of the gods”. She is also called Tlalli Iyollo.
The Aztec religion is a polytheistic and monistic pantheism in which the Nahua concept of teotl was construed as the supreme god Ometeotl, as well as a diverse pantheon of lesser gods and manifestations of nature. The popular religion tended to embrace the mythological and polytheistic aspects, and the Aztec Empire's state religion sponsored both the monism of the upper classes and the popular heterodoxies.
The Stone of Motecuhzoma I is a pre-Columbian stone monolith dating back to the rule of Motecuhzoma I (1440-1469), the fifth Tlatoani (ruler) of Tenochtitlan. The monolith measures approximately 12 feet in diameter and 39 inches tall, and is also known as the Stone of Motecuhzoma Ilhuicamina, the Cuauhxicalli of Motecuhzoma Ilhuicamina, the Archbishop's Stone, the Ex-Arzobispado Stone, and the Sánchez-Nava Monolith. Historical sources refer to it simply as "temalacatl," literally meaning "round stone."
Quetzalcoatl is a deity in Aztec culture and literature. Among the Aztecs, he was related to wind, Venus, Sun, merchants, arts, crafts, knowledge, and learning. He was also the patron god of the Aztec priesthood. He was one of several important gods in the Aztec pantheon, along with the gods Tlaloc, Tezcatlipoca and Huitzilopochtli. The two other gods represented by the planet Venus are Tlaloc and Xolotl.
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