Teotleco, Return of the Gods, the 12th 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, depicts a boy ascending a pyramid, wearing a blue necklace with gold pendants and an elaborate headdress. His footprints can be seen on the steps. The text describes in great detail the festival honoring Huitzilopochtli, which culminates in the appearance of footprints of a child being seen leading up to an offering of food. Above the boy's head is a scorpion. This month, identified as October with the astrological symbol of Scorpio, is called Teotleco or Pachtontli (Return of the Gods). The month was dedicated to Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war, or Tezcatlipoca (Smoking Mirror), the god of the night sky and memory. The hairstyle of the boy recalls the crowns of the nobility.

Last updated: October 26, 2012