Toxcatl, Drought, the Fifth 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 an instrument consisting of a staff wrapped with painted papers surmounted with a wheel. A large paper knot binds the top. At the right is a symbol of a striped face with white feathers on the head and a necklace. The text describes Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war, as being similar to Jupiter for the Romans. The month, identified as May, is called Toxcatl (Drought). The patron gods of this month were Huitzilopochtli and Tezcatlipoca (the god of the night sky and memory). The instrument shown, a tlachieloni or itlachiaya (viewing instrument), is one of the attributes of Tezcatlipoca, and was believed to serve him as a magic mirror. The striped face is also a symbol of Tezcatlipoca.

Last updated: October 26, 2012