Etzalcualiztli, Meal of Maize and Beans, the Sixth 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 god, probably Tlaloc (or a priest impersonating him), shown holding a stalk of maize and holding a water vessel. His eyes are rimmed with green circles, as is his mouth, and he wears a cloak. Above his head is a crab. The text describes the month as being of the workers and lower classes, when they go out wearing the dress shown here to remind everyone who provides the food. This month, identified as early June with the astrological symbol of the crab or Cancer, is called Etzalcualiztli (Meal of Maize and Beans). The patron god of this month was the rain god, Tlaloc. The attributes of Tlaloc include the handled water jar, the eye and mouth rims, and the corn stalk.

Last updated: October 26, 2012