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 the Aztec calendar with the symbols for each month. 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 or unlucky days at the end of the year, called the Nemontemi. 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 War against Coyoacan

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 the Battle of Coyoacan. Soldiers are shown fighting with war clubs and shields before a burning temple. Soldiers, some of them women, stand on the banks of a river. Also shown are war clubs, the glyph of a hill shown from the side, and dead soldiers. The chief soldier wears a feathered or quetzal headdress. The scholar Jacques Lafaye, the editor of the facsimile edition of the Tovar manuscript, hypothesized that the leader of the soldiers might be Tlacaélel.

Moctezuma I, the Fifth Aztec King (Reigned 1440–69)

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 Moctezuma I (also seen as Montezuma I), holding a spear or scepter and standing on a reed mat and next to a basket-work throne, being offered a crown with gold ornaments by a priest wearing the robe of the sun god. Next to him is his symbol of an arrow which strikes a starry night. Moctezuma wears an epaulette of quetzal feathers and a bone through his nose. Moctezuma I (reigned 1440–69), whose name means "lord who shows anger," was the fifth Aztec king (the text incorrectly identifies him as the sixth) and the nephew of Itzcóatl. The man giving him the crown in this painting is thought to be Nezahualcoyotl, ruler of Texcoco, and an ally of Moctezuma.  Nezahualcoyotl is wearing the cloak of Tonatiuh, the sun god. Acamapichtli, the first of the Aztec dynasty, and his descendant, Axayacatl, are the only other emperors shown with crowns having gold ornaments in the Tovar manuscript. The bone through Moctezuma's nose is said to symbolize man according to the tradition of the Texcoco.

Panquetzaliztli, Banner Raising, the 15th 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, an old and emaciated man holds a banner decorated with blue stripes and pennants. He wears a necklace of blue beads with gold pendants. Above the man's head is a goat. The text describes the month as being one in which the war captains celebrate. Identified as December with the astrological symbol of Capricorn, the month is called Panquetzaliztli (Banner Raising). It was dedicated to Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war. The blue color may be associated with this god, whose name means "Blue hummingbird on the left."

Quahuitlehua, Raising of the Trees, the First 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 banner of red and white stripes on a red mast, adorned with a crest of many colored feathers, with bundles of corn and fruits, and a square with two fish. This month is identified as February and is called Quahuitlehua (Raising of the Trees, or Ceasing of the Waters). It was also known as Atlcahualo, Atlcualo, Xilomaniztli, Cohuailhuitl, Atlmotzacuaya, or Xochzitzquilo. This month was dedicated to Tlaloc, the god of rain, to whom children were sacrificed by drowning, although the commentary here does not mention this ritual.

Chicomoztoc: The Origins of the Tribes that Settled in or Close to Mexico

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 Chicomoztoc, with men and women. Chicomoztoc, which means "seven caves," the place from which the Aztecs believed they came, was the Nahautl word for the mouth or womb. In the Aztec myth of creation, the Mexica left the bowels of the earth and settled in Aztlán, from which they acquired the name Aztec and from where they undertook a migration southward in search of a sign for where they should settle once more.

Acamapichtli, the First Aztec King (Reigned 1376–95)

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 Acamapichtli, holding a spear or scepter, standing on a reed mat. Above him is a hand holding reeds. To the right are jaguar skins. Acamapichtli (reigned 1376–95), whose name means handful of reeds, was a descendant of the Toltec emperors; his selection as the first ruler of the Mexico-Tenochtitlan dynasty gave authority to the Aztec rule. He is dressed in the clothes of the highest priests. The designs on his sandals are associated with the god Quetzalcoatl and with his Toltec ancestors. The jaguar, the eagle, and the serpent were potent symbols of Aztec religion.

Huitziláihuitl, the Second Aztec King (Reigned 1395–1417)

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 Huitziláihuitl, holding a spear or scepter, standing on a reed mat and next to a basket-work throne. Above him is a hummingbird. Huitziláihuitl (or Huitzilihuitl, reigned 1395–1417), whose name is derived from the hummingbird symbol of the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli (the god of the sun and war), was the second emperor of the Aztecs. He is dressed in the clothes of the highest priests. The designs on his sandals are associated with the god Quetzalcoatl and with his Toltec ancestors.

Chimalpopoca, the Third Aztec King (Reigned 1417–27)

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 second section, shows Chimalpopoca, holding a spear or scepter, standing on a reed mat and next to a basket-work throne. Above him is a smoking shield. Chimalpopoca (reigned 1417–27), whose name means smoking shield, was the third emperor of the Aztecs. He is depicted here dressed in the clothes of the highest priests.

Itzcóatl, the Fourth Aztec King (Reigned 1427–40)

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 Itzcóatl, holding a spear or scepter, standing on a reed mat and next to a basket-work throne. He hides his right hand under his tilma (cloak). Above him is an obsidian serpent. Itzcóatl (reigned 1427–40), whose name means obsidian serpent, was the fourth king of the Aztecs. He is dressed in the clothes of the highest priests and is credited with destroying the old Nahuatl records, consolidating legal authority in a totalitarian leader, and with establishing the practice of "flowery wars," which were waged to attain human sacrifices.