The Months of the Aztec Tonalpohualli (Day Count) 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 Aztec month, showing the name of each day of the month. At the top is an image of a man with fish-scale torso and quetzal plume, standing in water and holding a stalk of maize and a vessel. The Aztecs used two calendars to compute the days of the year. Xiuhpohualli (the first, or solar, calendar) consisted of 365 days, divided into 18 months of 20 units each, plus an additional period of five empty days at the end of the year. Tonalpohualli (the second, or "day count," calendar) was made up of 260 days, combinations of 13 numbers and 20 symbols. Every 52 years both calendars would align. The image probably indicates that the month shown here is the sixth month, Etzalcualiztli (Meal of Maize and Beans).

Tlacaxipehualiztli, Festival of the Flaying of Men, the Second 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 the god, Xipe Tótec, or his impersonator, who is shown wearing a tunic made of flayed human skin and with a protruding tongue. He wears a headdress with green feathers and sandals. In his left hand, he holds a rattle staff. In the right hand are two linked ears of maize or corn. Tied to the headband is a deer hoof. Hanging from his right earlobe is a bifurcated golden pendant. At his feet is a leaping goat or ram. This month, identified as March with the astrological symbol of a ram or Aries, commemorated the festival of Tlacaxipehualiztli (The Flaying of Men). The month is represented by an image of Xipe Tótec, "our flayed lord." The rattle staff is one of the insignia of this god, as are the two linked ears of maize. The deer hoof is associated with the hunting rites of the god. The golden pendant, called Teocuitlanacochtli, is also closely associated with the god.

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.

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.

Hueytecuilthuitli, Great Festival of the Lords, the Eighth 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 boy, dressed as the goddess Xilonen, shown wearing a cloak, a plume of quetzal feathers, and a headdress. Above his head is a head wearing a green stone necklace and at his feet is a lion. The text describes this month as being the feast of the more important lords and chiefs, which is celebrated with greater ostentation than the previous one. Identified as July with the astrological symbol of Leo, the month is called Hueytecuilthuitli (Great Festival of the Lords). It was dedicated to Xilonen, whose name signified ear of young corn. She was also known as Chicomecoatl (Seven Serpents) and was the goddess of maize and fertility.

Axayácatl, the Sixth Aztec King (Reigned 1469–81)

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, an illustrated history of the Aztecs, forms the main body of the manuscript. The third section contains the Tovar calendar. This illustration, from the second section, shows Axayácatl, holding a spear or scepter and wearing a crown with gold ornaments, standing on a reed mat and next to a basketwork throne. Above him is a head with water flowing from it. Axayácatl (reigned 1469–81) was the sixth Aztec king (the text incorrectly identifies him as the eighth), and a grandson of Moctezuma I (also seen as Montezuma I) and brother of Tizoc. Axayácatl’s name meant “face of water.”

Moctezuma II, the Last Aztec King (Reigned 1502–20)

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, an illustrated history of the Aztecs, forms the main body of the manuscript. The third section contains the Tovar calendar. This illustration, from the second section, depicts Moctezuma II, holding a spear or scepter and standing on a reed mat and next to a basketwork throne, wearing a beard and an epaulette of quetzal feathers. Next to him is a crown. Moctezuma II (reigned 1502–20), whose surname was Xocoyotzin or “Bitter Lord,” was the ninth Aztec emperor, the son of Axayácatl and the great grandson of Moctezuma I (also seen as Montezuma I). He surrendered to the Spanish in 1520. The crown is a sign of Moctezuma's sovereignty.

Huitzilopochtli, the Principal Aztec God

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, an illustrated history of the Aztecs, forms the main body of the manuscript. The third section contains the Tovar calendar. This illustration, from the second section, depicts Huitzilopochtli, holding a turquoise serpent or rattlesnake in one hand and a shield with the five directions of space and three arrows in the other. Huitzilopochtli wears a hummingbird mask or helmet with feathered quetzal crown, which is identified with the two Moctezumas (or Montezumas). Huitzilopochtli, whose name means "Blue hummingbird on the left," was the Aztec god of the sun and war. The xiuhcoatl (turquoise or fire serpent) was his mystical weapon.

The Custom of Aztec Burial

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, an illustrated history of the Aztecs, forms the main body of the manuscript. The third section contains the Tovar calendar. In this illustration, from the second section, a mummy is shown seated on a basketwork throne with a feathered ornament made from quetzal plumes, a jade collar, and three men in background. The three men represent the slaves who were sacrificed when an emperor died.

Camaxtli, God of War of the People of Tlaxcala

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, an illustrated history of the Aztecs, forms the main body of the manuscript. The third section contains the Tovar calendar. This illustration, from the second section, depicts Camaxtli, the god of war of the people of Tlaxcala (Place of Maize Cakes), a rival tribe to the Aztecs. The god, whose name is also seen as Mixcoatl-Camaxtli, is depicted as a man wearing a yellow, human skin and a conical hat like that of the Aztec god, Quetzalcóatl. He has three flags attached to his loincloth and holds a shield with the five directions of space on it, a ceremonial staff, and a spear in the other hand. Like the Aztecs, the people of Tlaxcala descended from nomadic Chichimecs. Camaxtli had promised that they would rule the world, but they were not as successful as the Aztecs and eventually allied themselves with the Spanish against their ancient enemies.