Hueymiccaihuitl, Great Feast of the Dead, the Tenth 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, shows two boys climbing a pole. At the top of the pole are a shield with white feathers, spears, banners on serrated poles (from cacti), two flowers (possibly xocoxochitl), and two bifurcated objects (possibly teocuitlanacochtli). Above the pole are the head of a long-billed bird with a seed in its mouth, a loaf studded with nuts and resembling a starry night, an ear of corn, and a trapezoidal object. The text describes the festival as being of the Tepanecs. This month is called Hueymiccaihuitl (or Xocotlhuetzi; Fall of Fruit or Great Feast of the Dead). It was commemorated by a ceremonial pole-climbing competition. The month was dedicated to Xocotl, the Aztec god of fire and the stars (also called Otontecuhtli, and whose cult was especially developed among the Tepanec tribes). Teocuitlanacochtli also were associated with worship of the god Xipe Tótec.

Last updated: October 26, 2012