7. MEXICA / NÁHUATL

Estimated Foundation Year: 1325 AD

Location of the Mexica / Nahuatl territory: The "Mexica" (previously, Aztecs of Aztlán), occupied most of the center and south of the current United Mexican States, or Mexico. Its culture and domination extended from the west of the Toluca valley, covering almost all the states of Veracruz, Puebla, in the center, Hidalgo, Mexico, Morelos and Michoacán, only what is now the Municipality of Zitácuaro.

Key books of the Mexica.

  • Codex Borbonicus.

The Bourbon Codex is a Mexican codex from the beginning of the Spanish colonial era, it was made on amate paper and folded in the shape of an accordion. Its leaves measure approximately 39 x 39.5 cm. It was kept in the Monastery of El Escorial until the Mexican War of Independence. Later it arrived in France in an unknown way and with the first and last leaves torn off. In 1826 it was bought by the library of the Chamber of Deputies in Paris . The codex owes its name to the Bourbon Palace , where it is preserved. In 2004 Maarten Jansen and Gabina Aurora Pérez proposed to change the name of the codex to Codex Cihuacóatl, in honor of the goddess Cihuacóatl . 1

  • Codex Mendoza.

The Mendoza Codex is a codex of Mexica manufacture, made in the 1540s on European paper. After the Conquest of Mexico, it was made by Mexica tlacuilos , who used the ancient pictoglyphic system on a screen-type format. Later, a Spanish scribe added glosses in alphabetical writing and in Spanish, interpreting what was captured with the help of indigenous interpreters. It owes its name to the fact that it was commissioned by the first viceroy of New Spain , Don Antonio de Mendoza y Pacheco .

Main deities of the Mexica culture.

The Mexican historian and researcher Rafael Tena Martínez points out the existence of 15 main deities in the Mexica religion, around which others of lesser hierarchy are organized. Other historical sources mention up to 114 gods, which are divided into three groups: creators and providents, of agricultural and human fertility and pleasure, and of cosmic energy, war and human sacrifice, each of which had a day consecrated. Some of the main gods are:

  • Ometecuhtli : Supreme Being, whose name means dual lord in the Nahuatl language, above other divinities and worldly vicissitudes. He resided in Omeyocán , the place or double heaven. As a god of duality, he refers to the belief present in other cultures (ancient Germans, Iran , Indonesia or Africa ) in an androgynous being, which represents the coincidence of opposites: man and woman, movement and stillness, light and darkness, order and chaos. This primordial ambiguity is also reflected in other mythological figures. Ometecuhtli was sometimes represented with symbols of fertility. It was believed that in Omeyocán he released the souls of children as a propitiatory act of human birth on earth. Within the hierarchy of gods, Ometecuhtli was followed by Tezcatlipoca , great spirit of the world, and his rival Quetzalcóatl .

  • Tezcatlipoca : The god of the night sky, the moon and the stars, lord of fire and death, one of the most feared figures in the Mexica pantheon. Also called Yáotl (the enemy); it was associated with the forces of destruction and evil. Tezcatlipoca , 'smoking mirror', was one of the most important gods. At the end of the 10th century, he was brought to the central regions of Mexico by the Toltecs . He was considered a sorcerer and master of black magic and he used to appear represented with a black mask and an obsidian mirror on his chest, where he saw all actions and thoughts. of humanity. Through his influence, the practice of human sacrifice became widespread: a handsome young prisoner was chosen for a life of lust and pleasure for an entire year, before being offered as a sacrifice in the sixth ritual month, Tóxcatl ; the victim, dressed as Tezcatlipoca , climbed to the top of the temple where his chest was opened and his heart was extracted.

  • Tláloc : The god of rain, the lord of lightning, thunder, lightning and the one who makes the springs flow in the mountains, this god was as important as Huitzilopochtli , the god of the Sun, both necessary for the production and fertilization of fields. Tlaloc, feared for his anger (thunder and lightning), causes death by lightning or drowning, although he is also revered for his generosity (rain). He is represented as a man with large round eyes, from whose mouth snakes sometimes come out. He is usually dressed with a fan-shaped hat and an agricultural instrument always appears next to him.

  • Mictlantecuhtli : The god of death, lord of Mictlán , the silent and dark kingdom of the dead; resembles the Mayan god Ah puch . He is represented as a skeleton, or at least his head is a skull. The Mexica believed in the existence of four communicated heavens, which were promoted by merit, each time achieving a fuller and more spiritual knowledge until reaching eternal happiness. But those people who had not led a dignified life were sent to Mictlán, a place in the center of the earth where the punishment was not torment but boredom and inertia. The Mexica, in order to appease Mictlantecuhtli , sent him sumptuous gifts, among which there was no shortage of skinned men's skins to cover his gaunt bones.

  • Coatlicue : Serpent goddess of the earth, mother of Huitzilopochtli , of whom she became pregnant without sin, magically, through a ball of feathers that fell on her and was attached to her clothes. Enraged by such a strange pregnancy, her four hundred sons and daughters wanted to kill her, but Huitzilopochtli himself, who came out of his mother's womb armed, contained them. It represents the maternal in its double meaning: birth and death, fertility and voracity.

  • Quetzalcóatl : Identified with a Feathered Serpent represents a symbol of death and resurrection, as well as the patron saint of priests. The opposite deity, within the dualism of the Toltec religion, was Tezcatlipoca , god of the night, of the night sky. It was believed that he had defeated and expelled Quetzalcóatl from his capital, Tula , into exile, from where, according to the prophecy, he would return from where the sun rises as a bearded and white-skinned character.

  • Tlazolteotl : Goddess of filth and garbage - according to the meaning of the Nahuatl word that names her of the power that underlies all forms of impurity. It was associated with sorcery and the purging of faults. She was the intermediary of the penitents before the god Tezcatlipoca, whose name means 'smoking mirror'.

 

 

Brief description of the Mexica religion.

The Mexica religion was a kind of polytheism and syncretism . He had points of contact with Catholic dogma . They believed in the fall of the first man, in original sin, and in regeneration through ablutions reminiscent of baptism . They considered that the human species had been thrown to earth as punishment, and in their prayers they implored divine mercy. Among the objects of his cult was the cross, which the Castilians found in Yucatán and in other provinces. The Mexica had, in addition, the confession, which purified them of the crimes previously committed; and in a ceremony similar to the Eucharist , in which the priests distributed fragments of an image of the god to the prostrate faithful.

The morals taught by the Mexica religion were generally pure. His prayers revealed feelings of sincere charity, forgiveness and forgetfulness of injuries, and the purpose of inspiring benevolence towards others. Polygamy was only allowed for chiefs. Women occupied a social status far superior to the Asian civilizations of their time, being present even in priestly functions. There were priestesses, but they had no involvement in the sacrifices.

When the Spanish missionaries began to impose Christian religious beliefs on the Mexica, they were surprised by the similarity of the Mexica religion to the Christian one. They assumed then that the Gospel had been preached in America by the apostles, and that those practices were born from the doctrines of their preaching confused with paganism . Some writers have thought that they had been imported from the old world by the early settlers of America. Despite its similarities to Christianity, the Mexica religion also had great differences which were reflected in the essence of dogma and in human sacrifices.