The four arguments that are used to support an ambiguous gender for Tlaltecuhtli are therefore problematic. The ambiguous gender of the earth deity is, therefore, not supported in either literature or iconography. Neither entirely female nor a blend of masculine and feminine features, Tlaltecuhtli was an earth conceived of in two ways: The former I refer to as 2 As Jonathan Amith notes pers.
This dual gender of the earth should not be misunderstood as ambiguous, however, for the male and female versions of the earth are completely distinct from one another. Because gender is so clearly marked in representations of the earth, arguments of gender ambiguity and discussions of the earth as strictly male or strictly female are equally untenable.
When Tlaltecuhtli 1 is shown, the figure is clearly marked as female, generally with a skull back rack or a skull and crossbones skirt. The splayed hocker position, which is discussed in the next chapter, is also widely understood as a birth position, another indicator of a female identity. The back ornament in particular is used as an element of female costuming in Aztec art and is, primarily, a female marker. For example, on the stones of Moctezuma I and Tizoc two female captives wear back skull ornaments with aprons Figure 8a , while the other male captives on the stone lack these elements.
Similarly, on the Fonds mexicain 20 the accoutrement of the female cihuateteo is distinguished from that of their male ahuiateteo counterparts by the skull back ornament and apron Figure 8b. Therefore, such skulls and aprons served in Aztec art as a means of differentiating female from male figures. The skull and crossbones skirt is also widely understood to be a female garment, worn by goddesses associated with the earth as well as by the cihuateteo and tzitzimime Klein While Tlaltecuhtli 1 is thus clearly marked as female, Tlaltecuhtli 2 Figures is just as clearly male.
He wears a male maxtlatl and bears no feminine symbols. His face mask is never seen worn by female deities and neither are his headdress or pointed boots. It is true that, in most regions where the earth is female, there are also present various lesser male earth deities, but the consistency of Tlaltecuhtli 2 imagery and the interchangeability between Tlaltecuhtli 1 and 2 forms, each of which is shown with equal regularity beneath objects like feathered serpents, indicate that this pairing is not a hierarchical one.
Neither, however, was ever blended with the markers of the opposite gender. Quotations, however, are left unaltered, lest I attribute such conclusions to authors who disagree. One therefore finds a female earth contrasted against a male sun, embodying such oppositions as darkness and light, wet and dry, night and day, etc. It is true that Aztec iconography shows a male earth, Tlaltecuhtli 2, as equally important, but, as this deity form is a composite of iconography from ancestral cultures, it is possible that the Aztecs did not link it as closely to their origin myths as their more typically Mexica female earth.
One puzzling aspect of this dual earth is that there appears to be no correlation between the gender of the earth and the object beneath which it was carved. Both Tlaltecuhtli 1 and 2, for instance, are seen underneath feathered serpents. As Anita Bobry states, this joining of Tlaltecuhtli with the feathered serpent symbolizes: The role of the earth as the consumer of the dead is referenced also by the presence of Tlaltecuhtli beneath boxes, like the Hackmack box, that were most likely used as funerary urns.
In other words, Tlaltecuhtli 1 is as likely to be found beneath a feathered serpent or colossal figure as Tlaltecuhtli 2. As such an effort was made to distinguish two differently gendered earths from one another, one would expect there to be significance in which variants were placed under which objects.
The patterns that governed the use of the male and female earth, however, have yet to emerge. Themes of Reciprocity Now that problems of gender have been addressed, one can proceed to examine the general ways in which the Aztecs viewed the earth. By first understanding the role that Tlaltecuhtli played in the mytho-history and cosmology of the Aztecs, one can more easily decipher the meaning behind iconographic variation among visual representations of the deity.
For the Aztecs the earth was alive, a conscious, coherent being with the ability to both create and destroy, nourish and starve. In the Histoire du Mechique, the earth begins as a great monster walking upon the primordial sea Garibay Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl, taking the form of two snakes, set upon this creature and tear it limb from limb. Despite such hearty reparation from the gods, however, Tlaltecuhtli ever after cries out in the night for blood and human victims. This mythic dismemberment of the earth is seen in several contexts related to earth goddesses and may even have been reenacted at the Ochpaniztli rites, ceremonies devoted to the primary Aztec earth goddess, Teteo Innan.
After this fall and presumed death , the victims were beheaded.
This type of sacrifice by dismemberment also recalls the death of Coyolxauhqui, albeit in reverse order, in which Coyolxauhqui was decapitated by Huitzilopochtli and thrown down the side of Coatepec. The birth of Huitzilopochtli was thus associated with the creation of both the Aztec sun and its earthly domain: Therefore, the dismemberment and decapitation of sacrifices to Teteo Innan at Ochpaniztli as well as that of Coyolxauhqui at the hill of Coatepec, may reference the first act of cosmic creation in which the body of the earth was torn apart to create the world of humankind.
This dismemberment of the earth goddess as a preliminary step of world creation and production is also discussed by Matos Moctezuma: Life, in the Aztec cosmogony, was not composed of a unified body but rather as a result of the violent actions of destruction; of tearing a body apart to create new combinations of matter sustaining a plurality of beings. Throughout the Americas, cultures perceive of dismemberment as a creative force.
That the earth itself was associated with themes of fertility, life, and agriculture is emphasized by Klein: For the Aztecs, the earth was all-producing, all-providing, generous and nurturing, giving birth to all things from its own flesh and body see also Baquedano Although Tlaltecuhtli was viewed as the great creator and provider of human life, the deity was also conceived of as a deadly force. Nuttall, for instance, writing at the beginning of the twentieth century, focuses on the darker aspects of the earth: Brundage paints an equally sinister picture: Discussions of Tlaltecuhtli as a hostile and chaotic force may cause an emphasis on the darker aspects of Tlaltecuhtli imagery over all else as a visual expression of Aztec terror and fear.
Instead, representations of Tlaltecuhtli are extremely structured, the exchange of elements governed by strict rules and, especially in Tlaltecuhtli 2, an almost obsessive attention to consistency. The Aztec earth was a balanced earth. Tlaltecuhtli had both negative and positive aspects, each of which was as important as the other. Tlaltecuhtli was both a vibrant earth and an earth that housed the dead.
Consequently, one sees a dual earth in the carved depictions of Tlaltecuhtli, in which the deity is surrounded by symbols of both benevolence and malevolence. Tlaltecuhtli and the Sun The duality inherent within the Aztec earth was echoed in the fundamental pairing of the earth and the sun. Though many scholars focus on the singular role of the sun in the lives of the Aztecs, the oft-overlooked earth played just as vital a role in their worldview. Female agrarian connections of the rainy season were contrasted against the male dry season pastimes of warfare and hunting Klein The joining of such oppositions was believed to form the basic framework of the cosmos and their delicate balance was considered key to the existence of the universe.
On the one hand, the earth was the greatest enemy of the sun, consuming him at dusk into the dark Underworld where he would have to undergo great battles to be reborn. On the other hand, the earth was considered the mother of the sun, for he emerged every morning from her womb at dawn. One might wonder how the earth can simultaneously be the mother and enemy of the sun, but it must be remembered that the mother-child relationship was conceived by the Aztecs as one of conflict.
Birth was undertaken by a woman as a warrior entering the battlefield: Both in battle and in childbirth, the relationship between children and their parents was envisioned as one of antagonism. It is thus easy to see how the earth could have, at once, given birth to as well as battled against the sun. These two aspects are frequently opposites, representing the fundamental principle of duality by which the Aztecs viewed their world. In this case, following the sun and Tlaltecuhtli refers to the impending death of warriors, whose bodies will be swallowed by Tlaltecuhtli and whose souls will go to accompany the sun to its zenith.
Despite the fact that the sun and earth are often paired in sixteenth-century sources, very few authors pay as much attention to the earth as they do the sun Graulich However, as will be discussed below, the Aztecs held the sun and earth in equal regard, for the universe was considered to be equally reliant on both for its continued existence. In this story, then, explicit reference is made not only to the sun and the earth as dual creators of mankind, but also to the fact that human sacrifice was intended to feed both the sun and the earth.
Therefore, though often overlooked by scholars, the purpose of war was as much to feed the earth as it was to provide the sun with blood. Graulich emphasizes the importance of double immolations as necessary in feeding both the sun and the earth. Though the majority of sacrifices recorded in sixteenth-century sources are described as performed by heart extraction, decapitation was another popular form of sacrifice.
In general, however, the sixteenth-century accounts often gloss over the rite of decapitation, a rite that may have accompanied most sacrifices Brundage Graulich discusses the reason why the Aztecs dedicated hearts to the sun and heads to the earth: For the Aztecs, the human heart was seen as the seat of movement and heat, and therefore their dedication to the sun was considered appropriate.
Blood, like water, was needed to fertilize the earth, and therefore decapitation, on the one hand perhaps echoing the initial dismemberment of the earth in creation myths, on the other hand was used for the very practical purpose of soaking the earth with blood. The earth was, indeed, an important member of the Aztec pantheon, playing a crucial role in the survival of mankind.
Even the foundation myth of Tenochtitlan refers to the joint involvement of sun and earth. That an eagle, avatar of the sun, makes his home within this cactus, a plant which sprouts from the earth, echoes the joining of the solar heart and terrestrial stone. That the earth was considered key in the founding of Tenochtitlan is further evidenced by the image found on the back of the Teocalli of Moctezuma Figure 9 , which shows the cactus, topped by an eagle, as being born from a skull, probably referencing the great earth maw.
This skull sits within the abdomen of a supine goddess, most likely Chalchiuhtlicue. This image, then, shows Tenochtitlan, born from the mouth of the earth, surrounded by the water body of Chalchiuhtlicue, symbolic of Lake Texcoco see Townsend The earth was conceived in myriad ways. Tenochtitlan, an island in the midst of a lake, recreated this cosmological model on a smaller scale, while the Templo Mayor recreated both Tenochtitlan as well the earth in general. It is clear that the Templo Mayor carried with it the same mixed associations as Tlaltecuhtli.
This great temple was considered a voracious monster, consuming the blood of the human sacrifice that took place on its steps and platforms. In return for sacrifice, the gods residing in the temples promised agricultural growth, production, and the maintenance of the empire. The base of the pyramid, its platform, may have represented the body of Tlaltecuhtli, the corpses rolling down the steps of the double temple coming to rest where the earth would be soaked with blood.
Graulich provides an interesting description of the double immolations that took place at the Templo Mayor: The Coyolxauhqui stone Figure 10 , which once lay at the base of the pyramid, shows the goddess as a great victim of sacrifice, beheaded and dismembered by Huitzilopochtli. This figure, however, also shows striking iconographic parallels to the earth, including masked joints, skulls tied on to the elbows and knees, a skull-topped back apron, and both wristlets and anklets, the anklets edged with bells.
The Aztecs, however, structured their universe in multiple ways, using dual, triple, and even quadripartite schemes see Van Zantwijk The Aztecs thus utilized a triadic model of earth, sky, and Underworld, as well as a triad of water, sun, and earth alongside their more often cited framework of dual oppositions. The Templo Mayor, then, was not only a dual structure, but simultaneously represented a triad.
The third deity is described as follows: This final deity, then, is most likely a representation of Tlaltecuhtli. One must remember that the most important role of Tlaltecuhtli, by far, was as the earth itself. Though this may seem obvious, it is key in our understanding of this figure. Tlaltecuhtli was considered all-pervasive, omnipresent. It may be important to note here that the first temple built to honor Huitzilopochtli was made of earth and crowned with reeds, the symbolic body of Tlaltecuhtli: It is important to note, too, that sculptures depicting Tlaltecuhtli have, for the most part, been found at or around the Templo Mayor Baquedano and Orton The disproportionate amount of Tlaltecuhtli figures found around the Templo Mayor may indicate that the presence of Tlaltecuhtli was considered to be especially intense at this site see Matos Moctezuma The Templo Mayor may therefore be understood as embracing two different numerical models by which the Aztecs organized their cosmos; on the one hand it was a duality, joining the images and associations of Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli.
Instead, it has been demonstrated that the Aztecs conceived of their earth in two very different ways: Despite the fact that both masculine and feminine variants of the earth existed, however, gender markings are never combined but remain clear and non- interchangeable. Such duality is inherent in conceptions of the earth, which was viewed by the Aztecs as both all-producing and all-destroying, both a victim of primordial sacrifice and its greatest proponent.
In sixteenth-century literature and myth, the female earth is frequently paired with the male sun, a coupling that reveals the profound role the earth played in Aztec cosmology. This duality of sun and earth was also reflected in the prevalence of double immolation ceremonies in which heart extraction, dedicated to the sun, and decapitation, dedicated to the earth, were combined. As such a study proves, the earth played a key role in the way in which the Aztecs viewed their world.
Though authors often emphasize the importance of the sun, in reality it was a joint sun and earth that provided the basis for Aztec cosmovision. One could not survive without the other. The importance of the earth in Aztec belief is further emphasized by the fact that the Templo Mayor itself may have been envisioned not merely as a duality, as is so commonly thought, but also as a triad.
In this temple, then, one not only sees the powers of sun and water, but also the earth combined. Towards an Iconographic Definition of Tlaltecuhtli 3. Representations of Tlaltecuhtli often appear so various as to defy attempts at categorization. This frequently fosters a feeling that iconography of the earth must be approached in an almost instinctual way—that intuition is the only means of determining which images do, in fact, represent the earth.
Despite its seemingly innumerable variations, however, Tlaltecuhtli imagery is extremely formulaic and easily definable. What is needed is guidance, an establishment of parameters that designate both the boundary around Tlaltecuhtli imagery in general, and also those boundaries that differentiate Tlaltecuhtli variants from one another.
Therefore, there must be a two-tiered means of categorization. First, the question of what characteristics are shared by all representations of Tlaltecuhtli, allows one to form a broad category of earth imagery, setting the rules by which a corpus of comparative images can be formed.
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Second, a more detailed definition of each Tlaltecuhtli group, 1 and 2 see Appendix 1 , allows for a more specific division among Tlaltecuhtli types. In this study, in order to be considered a depiction of Tlaltecuhtli, an image must have three features. Due to the infrequency and lack of variety in codex depictions of Tlaltecuhtli, however, as well as the fact that no pre-Conquest Aztec codices are currently known, such imagery is considered secondary to stone relief depictions of the deity. Like codex images, Tlaltecuhtli representations in stone are always two-dimensional and, generally speaking, are carved on the undersides of stone boxes, beneath cuauhxicalli, or as panel faces.
It is these two dimensional representations in stone that are the focus of this work. The second requirement of Tlaltecuhtli images is that they must be depicted in a straight-on view. En face images often appear to have been associated with such themes by their positioning on objects. It is not, therefore, surprising that images of Tlaltecuhtli, the terrestrial deity par excellence, would be positioned so often beneath objects, connecting the deity to the earth it represented.
The powerful reaction that results from such a 1 An inscribed femur from Colhuacan Figure 1d is an exception to this rule. Several of these arguments also hold true for the dorsal images of Tlaltecuhtli, which similarly emphasize the vertical axis and symmetry of the human body.
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Tlaltecuhtli, always depicted in a straight-on view, then, is not only associated with themes of darkness, earth, and death, but also with power, direct engagement, and intense confrontation. Though Tlaltecuhtli is by no means the only deity shown in this hocker pose, it is a diagnostic feature of the deity. Consequently, when other gods are presented in such a position, it is usually a means of linking them to aspects of the earth, particularly powers of birth and creation.
The five possible interpretations of this pose are that it represents the world directions, parturition, defeat, descent, or a saurian or amphibian identity. The first of these is never mentioned in contemporary scholarship, perhaps because the conflation of the body of the earth with the quadripartite universe seems self-evident. Klein presents an interesting alternative to the birth theory, though, suggesting that such a position may instead represent defeat, sacrifice, and subjugation. As I will argue below, the two arguments are not necessarily contradictory, as birth and death were considered analogous in the Aztec world.
The third option, rarely discussed by authors, is that the hocker position might depict descent—recalling in particular the descent of tzitzimime demons during solar eclipses or the role of the cihuateteo in bringing the sun from zenith to setting. Finally, textual evidence describes Tlaltecuhtli as a giant toad, thereby focusing more on the history of Tlaltecuhtli as an amphibious monster than the other, more conceptual associations of the position.
Nuttall, for instance, discusses the human body, especially the sacrificial victim when stretched out over the sacrificial stone, as a metaphor for the world directions Interestingly, Tlaltecuhtli is never identified in the codices with a specific direction Klein That the outspread body of the earth was symbolic of the four directions is also seen in ballgame imagery, where the ballcourt and body of Tlaltecuhtli are at times conflated Figure The primary evidence supporting the hocker position as one of birth is that many deities found in this pose are seen with creation imagery: The most vivid image in support of the hocker position being a birth pose is found in the Codex Borbonicus, where Tlazolteotl, dressed in a flayed skin, gives birth to a miniature version of herself Figure 11a.
As can be seen, her body position conforms perfectly to that of Tlaltecuhtli. A number of other images depicting the hocker position as one of birth can also be found in the Borgia Codex. In one instance, a human figure emerges in a gush of blood from the abdomen of a blindfolded goddess Figure 11b. Interestingly, a number of these images depict birth as emergence from the abdomen rather than the womb, perhaps an allusion to the idea that the stomach, the center of the body — marked at birth as the terminus of the umbilical cord—was considered as much the locale of creation and birth as the womb and birth canal.
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It is important to note, however, that there are also instances where explicit birth scenes do not show the mother in the hocker position. First among these is the greenstone image regarded as the earth goddess Tlazolteotl giving birth Figure 11c. This is the exact position seen in the greenstone image and therefore demonstrates that this body pose was a typical one of birth.
This birth position is known ethnographically and is discussed by Guiteras-Holmes Tlaltecuhtli, in contrast, is never shown with a rope in hand, and often clutches skulls or human hearts instead. The fact that two of the most explicit representations of birth known from Mesoamerica are so different from one another leads one to instead conclude that there may, in fact, have been a variety of poses used by women in childbirth, the hocker among them.
In the case of true Tlaltecuhtli imagery—rather than imagery of other deities taking on her body position—there is only one inarguable instance of such a position representing creation. This relief panel shows Tezcatlipoca emerging from a chalchihuitl sign on the abdomen of Tlaltecuhtli Figure 2b.
As for other Tlaltecuhtli images, none show the physical result of birth. The reason for this may be quite simple: This skull thus marks the greater part of Tlaltecuhtli 1 figures as facing away from the viewer. As this is the case, it would be difficult indeed to show birth. As such events are generally represented taking place through the navel, they would occur on the face opposite that available to the viewer.
Rather than showing parturition, Klein argues, the hocker position presents us with a defeated enemy. Likening the splayed pose of the earth deity to the pelts of animals taken in the hunt, Klein theorizes that Tlaltecuhtli imagery represents a defeated woman warrior, subjugated and humiliated by the male state. Klein , for instance, discusses Tlaltecuhtli as conceptually equivalent to Cihuacoatl, the first defeated enemy of Huitzilopochtli.
Because the Aztecs viewed female warriors as potential enemies of the state, they were often depicted in contexts of subjugation and defeat. It is important to mention, however, that arguments about female subjugation only relate to images of Tlaltecuhtli 1, for Tlaltecuhtli 2 is fully male. If this indeed was used as a throne, the ruler would, literally, have been seated upon the back of the earth. Though, with the sun symbol carved into the seat back, this might be read as positioning the ruler between earth and sky, images of defeated enemies sat upon and stood upon by rulers throughout Mesoamerica link such a position to that of military defeat as well see also Carrera All Tlaltecuhtli 2 images face the earth and might thereby serve as support for the defeat theory.
In the case of Tlaltecuhtli 1 imagery, however—the female variant of the earth that would have best embodied concepts of the defeated enemy of the Aztec state—the Teocalli of Moctezuma Figure 1b , the base of the Bilimek vessel Figure 2a , and possibly the base of the Stuttgart statuette Figure 5d are the only representations of Tlaltecuhtli 1 known to show the goddess facing the ground.
Though Tlaltecuhtli 1 often appears with her back toward the viewer when looked at out of context, when in situ—whether on the base of cuauhxicalli, figures, or offertory boxes—her back would have faced the ground. As a result, objects generally would not have been placed on the back of the earth goddess as a sign of her defeat, but instead would be conceptually placed on her abdomen, previously discussed as equivalent to the site of birth. In Mesoamerican art, animal pelts are never shown face- up, and though some defeated warriors are depicted lying supine, these are never shown in the hocker position.
This theory, as applied to Tlaltecuhtli imagery in general, also does not address the various creation and birth scenes so often associated with the hocker position in the codices. If such a pose were indicative of death and defeat, it seems the codices would not show it in so many contexts of creation. The creation of the earth from the torn body of Tlaltecuhtli was an act of war undertaken by Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, and the Aztecs held all creation and birth to be the results of warfare and destruction.
A position of parturition and a position of defeat and sacrifice are therefore by no means mutually exclusive. The first is a stone relief depiction of the body of Tlaltecuhtli—complete with mouths at her joints, clawed hands and feet, and the hocker body position—which bears the face and butterfly wings of Itzpapalotl Figure 13a. As a result, this relief is frequently shown in illustrations with the head facing downwards Klein Nothing, however, distinguishes the position of Itzpapalotl, here widely presumed to be descending headfirst to earth, from the position of Tlaltecuhtli, which is rarely, if ever, described as one of descent.
If one looks closely, however, one can discern a body and limbs—in much smaller scale than the head—that show this goddess is in the hocker position. As the ornament most likely would be worn with the face upright, it is clear that the use of the hocker position to show descent is not limited to images of Itzpapalotl. A sculpture of a Huastec goddess wearing a headdress of a monster descending in the hocker position Figure 13c , not to mention the various descending gods from the site of Tulum in Yucatan, further indicate that such a pose was often associated with the descent of deities.
This, of course, would include Tlaltecuhtli, the terrestrial deity par excellence. Descent, however, is not necessarily unequivocally associated with death and destruction. Descent was therefore associated with both the descent of the tzitzimime at the end of the world as well as the descent of children before birth. In other words, descent deals with both the completion and the renewal of cycles of time Klein Unfortunately, there are very few Tlaltecuhtli images that have come from controlled excavations.
Three-dimensional sculptures of toads, when looked at from below, do have some iconographic similarity to deities shown in the hocker position Nicholson This sign is identical to the chalchihuitl signs found on the abdomens of at least three Tlaltecuhtli relief sculptures. Here, too, the symbol would refer to the center or womb of the earth.
Toads and frogs, conceived of as symbols of fertility and agricultural abundance throughout Mesoamerica, certainly carry similar associations as Tlaltecuhtli. Even the chalchihuitl sign is found on many figures besides toads and does little to confirm a toad reading. In sum, there is very little that directly links Tlaltecuhtli with reptilian, amphibian, or saurian forms. However, it appears clear that such a figure was considered distinct from Tlaltecuhtli. More likely than the truth of a single theory, however, is that the hocker position is a blend of several interpretations.
The splayed body of the earth may symbolize the four world quarters while at the same time uniting themes of birth, defeat, descent, and reptilian or amphibian connections, for no single theory precludes the others. Arguments that the position represents death and defeat in battle complement, rather than refute, the arguments that claim it is a position of parturition, for women in childbirth were considered warriors going into battle. Birth and sacrifice thus represent two halves of the same life cycle. Though the hypothesis of descent is by far the most often dismissed or ignored by authors, there is clear iconographic evidence to support it, and it should be understood that descent, too, carries with it associations of both life and death, beginnings and endings.
Neither does the association with saurian or amphibian creatures, connected so closely to agricultural growth and renewal, somehow contradict or oppose these other theories. Therefore, it may be best to think of the hocker position as having multiple meanings, each of which supports the theory that Aztec conceptions of the earth revolved around duality, the mutual dependence of death and life. In this study, in order to be considered a representation of Tlaltecuhtli, an image must be a two-dimensional form found in codices or stone relief sculpture.
These three features are considered the diagnostic characteristics shared by all Tlaltecuhtli imagery. No image lacking one or more of these features can be described as Tlaltecuhtli, though it must be mentioned that some images displaying all three may not be Tlaltecuhtli either. Not only does its three-dimensional character not conform to the parameters of Tlaltecuhtli imagery, but its crossed-leg seated position is further indication that it represents a different deity, albeit with strong earth attributes.
Once this initial division has been made between representations of Tlaltecuhtli and representations similar to Tlaltecuhtli, a secondary distinction is required. Tlaltecuhtli images fit into one of two categories. The first of these, Tlaltecuhtli 1, is characterized either by an open maw Tlaltecuhtli 1a Figures or an upside-down female head Tlaltecuhtli 1b Figures All images in the Tlaltecuhtli 1 category share toothy faces at the elbow and knee joints and clawed hands and feet clutching skulls or hearts.
Tlaltecuhtli 1a images are shown in either a frontal marked by a chalchihuitl sign or dorsal marked by a skull and back apron view, while Tlaltecuhtli 1b is only shown in a dorsal view. This figure bears a large central circle marked with a quincunx and wears boots with upturned toes. Though not completely clawed, the hands display taloned thumbs. See Appendix 1 The smaller iconographic details that vary among these categories will be discussed in the next two chapters, which address each of the two Tlaltecuhtli variants.
All Tlaltecuhtli 1 images share toothy faces at the elbow and knee joints, a skull and crossbones skirt, malinalli grass hair, clawed hands and feet, and striated bracelets and anklets, the anklets edged with bells. The category is further broken down into Tlaltecuhtli 1a Figures and 1b Figures , the first marked by a wide-open jaw, the second by an upside-down female head with a knife clenched in her teeth. Though these may appear quite different at first glance, overall similarity in the bodies of both types leads to the conclusion that they represent head variants of the same form.
That said, some iconographic variation does occur. First, in the case of Tlaltecuhtli 1a, there are frontal and dorsal views. Though they are not different enough to designate separate categories altogether, such variations hold the key to the different ways in which the Aztecs represented their earth.
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What might be considered minor inconsistencies in design in fact form an iconographic language linking different subgroups of Tlaltecuhtli 1 imagery to themes of death and consumption, birth and production, war and sacrifice. One of the most frequently cited characteristics of Tlaltecuhtli 1 is that toothy faces mark the elbow and knee joints. This feature is often listed as a diagnostic element of the earth and, when displayed by other gods, is viewed as a sign that these gods are associated with the earth Heyden As one of the very few iconographic descriptions of Tlaltecuhtli found in sixteenth-century sources, this passage emphasizes the importance of the masks as a diagnostic feature of Tlaltecuhtli 1.
Alcina Franch links these masks to themes of the earth and underworld: Arnold explains that a newly delivered mother was considered particularly susceptible to injury through her joints: If this is the case, then these masks may mark Tlaltecuhtli 1 as a newly delivered mother, at risk of pollution by dangerous forces that could attack through her weakened joints. That joints themselves were associated with birth and emergence is seen in Borgia 42, where figures emerge from the knees and elbows of a skeletal god Figure Though the full meaning of these figures is unknown, they are connected to themes of agricultural growth and fertility.
Interestingly, on Borgia 30, 33, and 34, these nature spirits are also shown with clawed hands and feet, a feature characteristic of earth deities in general and Tlaltecuhtli in particular Figure 16a. As shown in the images from the Codex Tudela 46r Figure 17a and the Codex Magliabechiano 76r Figure 17b , such masks may have been a feature of the tzitzimime demons. Symbols associated with Tlaltecuhtli may therefore be both terrestrial and celestial signs Aguilera Another detail that weakens the argument that these masks are straightforward signs of the earth is that images of cipactli, the crocodilian earth, do not show such faces Figures 31c-d.
If such masks were an Aztec terrestrial symbol, then images of crocodiles in the hocker position found beneath objects presumably would display them as well. Acosta, for instance, describes a funeral ceremony as follows: What kind of priest this was and what his offices were are not discussed. In place of eyes he wore shining mirrors; his mouth was huge and fierce; his hair was curled; he had two hideous horns; and on each shoulder he wore a mask with mirror eyes. Archaeometry , , pp. The Archaeological City Today. Contributions to American Anthropology and History 5 Mapping the Wilds of Peten.
The Return of the Archaeologists. Ostentatious Production and Precolumbian Fraud. Frans Blom's Letters from Palenque. A Composite Stairway Throne at Palenque. The Identification of the Language of Mayan Hieroglyphs. A Badge of Rulership. The Palenque Beauty Salon. Caracol, Belize Season. News and Latest Discoveries Summer Excerpted from "Palenque Cross Group Project: Contributions to American Anthropology and History 8 Results of the First Field Season El mural del Norte.
Results of the Third Field Season Indian Notes 6 3: A Micro- and Macrohistorical Approach. Bloodletting and the Mythos of Maya Rulership. Lineage Compounds and Subsidiary Lords at Palenque. Recent Archaeological Investigations in Chiapas, Mexico. Contributions to American Archaeology 2 5: Bureau of American Ethnology, Washington, D.
Cloudy Places of the Maya Realm.
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Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago. The Fifteen Tun Glyph. Contributions to American Archaeology 2 Contributions to American Archaeology 3 Current Reports 2 Results of the Second Field Season Contributions to American Archaeology 2 9: Another very relevant piece is a jadeite mask in the collection o f the Peabody Museum o f Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University acquired apparently in but o f unknown provenience; catalogue number: It was first illustrated by Cahill 1 9 3 3: In these latter features the new carving obviously more closely resembles the mask than the famous head.
In concise summary, Coatlicue, "Serpents-her-Skirt", while performing penitential exercises at Coatepec, is impregnated b y a floating feather ball which she places in her bosom. Her eldest child, Coyolxauhqui, and her 4 0 0 " i n n u m e r a b l e " sons, the Centzon Huitznahua, resolve to kill her for her shameful sexual transgression, but her unborn child, Huitzilopochtli, consoles his mother f r o m the w o m b. Warned b y a renegade among the approaching host with matricide their aim, he bursts forth, fully armed, and with the xiuhcoatl, the "turquoise snake", decapitates and dismembers his half-sister and destroys most o f his half-brothers, the survivors fleeing to the South.
He published t h e m in the belief that t h e y were authentic pre-Hispanic artifacts, but they appear, f r o m his illustrations, t o be almost certain falsifications. Chavero 1 9 0 0: A significant variant o f this narrative is contained in Alvarado T e z o z o m o c 1 9 4 4: In this version Huitzilopochtli decapitates and extracts the heart o f " C o y o l x a u h " , not explicitly identified as his sister, and does likewise to the Centzon Huitznahua in the sacred ballcourt, the T e o tlachco, at Coatepec, which is specified as a stopping place o n the AztecaMexica migration route from Aztlan to the Basin o f M e x i c o - where they had angered their patron deity by their intention o f remaining in the artificial lake-surrounded c o m m u n i t y they had created there.
Meaning of "monolito" in the Spanish dictionary
Both chroniclers earlier described Huitzilopochtli's sister under another name, Malinalxoch itl , a malevolent sorceress, w h o is abandoned, o n her brother's orders, at or just after leaving Patzcuaro, in Michoacan. With a faithful band o f followers, she settles at Texcaltepec-Malinalco named after her , giving birth to an equally hostile son, Copil, w h o later plays a significant role in events surrounding the foundation o f M e x i c o Tenochtitlan.
A n other very summary account o f Huitzilopochtli's birth at Coatepec during the Mexica migration is included in the "Historia de los mexicanos p o r sus pinturas" 1 9 6 5: It is also made explicit that the Panquetzaliztli veintena ceremony was in c o m m e m o r a t i o n o f Huitzilopochtli's birth and victory over his enemies. In accordance with various other sources, the event is assigned here to the New Fire year, 2 Acatl, which, in the chronology employed in this source, would equate with V , on the other hand, may indicate the previous year, 1 Tochtii equated here with Perhaps significantly, this latter date, as mentioned, is carved on the underside o f the colossal head Fig.
Ce Tochtii, the date o f the 83 creation of the present universe, is sometimes carved on the undersides o f Aztec monuments e. The most popular has been the solar-lunar-astral interpretation of Eduard Seler first adumbrated in Seler 1 9 0 1 - 0 2: The Seler hypothesis is seductive and "logical", which probably explains its wide acceptance, but, with regard to Coyolxauhqui at least, there seems to be little or nothing in her iconography which is specifically lunar.
On the other hand, she does share various features with other female fertility deities whose lunar associations, among others, have long been generally accepted, particularly Xochiquetzal see Thompson He concluded that Chantico was basically "the fire goddess o f Xochimilco". Her igneous associations seem undeniable, but she probably also connoted various other concepts c o m m o n to the highly important cluster o f intimately interrelated female 5 84 Caso 1 9 5 9: On the right side o f this undersurface is t h e representation o f a spider c f.
In particular, in my view Seier insufficiently recognized cf. Chantico's apparent partial merger with Xochiquetzal and, probably, with the whole c o m p l e x o f youthful deities o f sensuality o f which she was the principal female embodiment. Chantico's cult was definitely o f some significance. Seler failed to mention that another Chantico-Cuaxolotl temple was stated by Torquemada 1 9 7 5: Precisely why Coyolxauhqui was equated with Chantico poses a certain problem. In the few references to the former, cited above, no mention is made o f Chantico.
Her igneous and, apparently, aggressive, militaristic connotations — particularly if the evidence o f the idol just described be taken into account — might have seemed particularly suitable f o r the malevolent half-sister o f their national god. Or there may have been deeper conceptual connections concerning which we can only speculate in the face o f the limited amount of data available concerning these two deities.
Whatever the precise reasons, Coyolxauhqui was apparently considered to have been a manifestation o f Chantico. The hyphenated title which Beyer [ 1 9 6 5 ] first applied to the Templo Mayor colossal head cf.