Huitzilopochtli, the Principal Aztec God


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, depicts Huitzilopochtli, holding a turquoise serpent or rattlesnake in one hand and a shield with the five directions of space and three arrows in the other. Huitzilopochtli wears a hummingbird mask or helmet with feathered quetzal crown, which is identified with the two Moctezumas (or Montezumas). Huitzilopochtli, whose name means "Blue hummingbird on the left," was the Aztec god of the sun and war. The xiuhcoatl (turquoise or fire serpent) was his mystical weapon.

Last updated: April 27, 2015