Atemoztli, the 16th 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 a profile of a head wearing a headdress with green feathers holding a blue snake staff and a water vessel from which water pours. Above this head is another of a woman with a roundel above her forehead. Above this head is a hand of leaves of grass set over a square shape. The text describes the celebration of Tlaloc, the god of rain, and describes him as being shown with the face of his mother and a bundle of green leaves over an altar step, to indicate that by his hand he gives greenness to the land through his rains. This month, identified as that of Thomas the Apostle, is called Atemoztli (Water Descends). The month was dedicated to Tlaloc. The couatopilli (snake staff) is a common attribute of Tlaloc. The headdress is the same as that in the month of Tepeilhuitl. Chalchiuhtlicue (Jade skirt), described variously as the mother, wife, or sister of Tlaloc and goddess of lakes and streams, is indicated by the chalchiuitl (green jade) above her head.

Last updated: October 26, 2012