Camaxtli, God of War of the People of Tlaxcala


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 Camaxtli, the god of war of the people of Tlaxcala (Place of Maize Cakes), a rival tribe to the Aztecs. The god, whose name is also seen as Mixcoatl-Camaxtli, is depicted as a man wearing a yellow, human skin and a conical hat like that of the Aztec god, Quetzalcóatl. He has three flags attached to his loincloth and holds a shield with the five directions of space on it, a ceremonial staff, and a spear in the other hand. Like the Aztecs, the people of Tlaxcala descended from nomadic Chichimecs. Camaxtli had promised that they would rule the world, but they were not as successful as the Aztecs and eventually allied themselves with the Spanish against their ancient enemies.

Last updated: October 26, 2012