Izcalli, the Rebirth, the 18th 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. In this illustration, from the third section, the symbol for calli (house) is shown with a flowering plant before it. The text states that the European or Spaniard clothed in red and holding a book serves only to show, by a line extended from his finger to the opposite page, where the Spanish New Year begins on the calendar. This month is called Izcalli (Rebirth). The commentary does not mention Xiuhtecutli, the god of fire, whose rites were celebrated during this month and who symbolizes the death of the old year and the hope of renewal for the new. Following this month were the five unlucky or empty days of the Aztec calendar called the Nemontemi.

Last updated: October 26, 2012