Ochpaniztli, the 11th 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. This illustration, from the third section, shows a staff wrapped with strips decorated with chevron marks circled by a knot, surmounted by three brooms. The text describes the month as being one in which womanly tasks were honored by celebrating the mother goddess who swept the house of her son, Huitzilopochtli, god of the sun and of war. Next to the staff is a scale. The month, identified as September with the astrological symbol of Virgo, is called Ochpaniztli (Sweeping Away). It was dedicated to the goddess Toci. The cotton strips are called tetuitl and symbolize Toci, Teteo innan, or Tlaçolteotl, all variant names for an earth goddess and moon goddess.

Last updated: October 26, 2012