October 26, 2012

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.

Toci and Xochiquetzal, Two Aztec Goddesses

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 two goddesses. Toci or Tonantzin, "our venerated mother," is shown with a bone through her nose, holding flower plumes and wearing quetzal plumes on her head. Xochiquetzal, "flower feather," is shown wearing a jade necklace, kneeling on a lake. Jacques Lafaye, the editor of the facsimile edition of the Tovar manuscript, claimed that the anonymous commentator has mislabeled the figure on the left as Toci or Tonantzin. Lafaye argued that the figure is Xochiquetzal, who was the goddess of artists, love, earth, pregnant women, and the moon, and who is sometimes mentioned as being married to Tlaloc, the god of rain. Lafaye identified the figure on the right as Chalchiuhtlicue, the goddess of lakes and streams, and who was also said to be married to Tlaloc. Lafaye based his argument on the fact that another important manuscript, the Codex Durán, contains an illustration of Xochiquetzal on the left and Chalchiuhtlicue on the right.

The Aztec Tonalpohualli 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 Tonalpohualli calendar with a sun at the center of the wheel. 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. Tonalpohualli (the second, or "day count," calendar) had a cycle made up of 260 days, combinations of 13 numbers and 20 symbols. The second calendar was divided into four sections: the acatl (reed), the tochtli (rabbit), the calli (house), and the tecpatl (flint). The acatl section of the calendar wheel is green, the color of the paradise of Tamoanchan (the Aztec equivalent of the Garden of Eden), and represents the east. The tochtli section is blue and represents the south. The calli section is in white (here the artist has used yellow) and represents the west. The tecpatl section is the color of sacrifice or red and represents the north.

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 priest with a quetzal plume at his feet and a crown and calendar wheel in the background. The Aztecs used two calendars to compute the days of the year. Xiuhpohualli (the first, or solar, calendar) consisted of 365 days, divided into eighteen months of twenty 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 seventh month, Tecuilhuitontli (Small Feast of the Lords).