Hueytozoztli, Continuation of the Festival of Bird Sacrifices, the Fourth Month of the Aztec Solar Calendar


The Tovar Codex, attributed to the 16th-century Mexican Jesuit Juan de Tovar, contains detailed information about the rites and ceremonies of the Aztecs (also known as Mexica). The codex is illustrated with 51 full-page paintings in watercolor. Strongly influenced by pre-contact pictographic manuscripts, the paintings are of exceptional artistic quality. The manuscript is divided into three sections. The first section is a history of the travels of the Aztecs prior to the arrival of the Spanish. The second section is an illustrated history of the Aztecs. The third section contains the Tovar calendar, which records a continuous Aztec calendar with months, weeks, days, dominical letters, and church festivals of a Christian 365-day year. In this illustration, from the third section, a bird with grey and red feathers is shown stabbed with a bone tool. This month, identified as having the saint’s day of Mark the Evangelist, and known as Hueytozoztli (The Great Vigil), commemorated the festival of bird sacrifices which took place during the month. The patron gods of this month, equating to April–May, were Centeotl (a female corn goddess) and Chicomecoatl (Seven Serpents, the goddess of maize and fertility). The month included the blessing of new corn. The title of the illustration is corrected in another hand.

Last updated: October 26, 2012