Axayácatl, the Sixth Aztec King (Reigned 1469–81)


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, an illustrated history of the Aztecs, forms the main body of the manuscript. The third section contains the Tovar calendar. This illustration, from the second section, shows Axayácatl, holding a spear or scepter and wearing a crown with gold ornaments, standing on a reed mat and next to a basketwork throne. Above him is a head with water flowing from it. Axayácatl (reigned 1469–81) was the sixth Aztec king (the text incorrectly identifies him as the eighth), and a grandson of Moctezuma I (also seen as Montezuma I) and brother of Tizoc. Axayácatl’s name meant “face of water.”

Last updated: May 11, 2015