His temple (next to that of Tlaloc) on the Main Pyramid was the focus of fearsome sacrifices of prisoners captured by Aztec warriors. Victims' heads were strung as trophies on a great rack, the Tzompantli, erected in the precinct below.
God of War-Lord of the South-The Young Warrior-Lord of the Day- The Blue Tezcatliopoca of the South-Patron God of the Mexica. Known metaphorically as "The Blue Heron Bird", "The Lucid Macaw", and "The Eagle".
The derivation of his name may have come from the ancient Chichimeca "Tetzauhteotl", possibly meaning "Omen-God".
He is considered an incarnation of the sun and struggles with the forces of night to keep mankind alive. Only to have found a place of major worship among the Aztec peoples. Huitzilopochtli is credited with inducing the Aztecs to migrate from their homeland in "Aztlan" and begin the long wanderings which brought their tribe to the Mexico Valley.
According to Aztec legend, Coatlicue, goddess of the earth had given birth to the moon and stars. The moon, Coyolxauhqui, and the stars called, Centzonhuitznahuac, became jealous of Coatlicue's pregnancy with Huitzilopochtli. During his birth, Huitzilopochtli used the "serpent of fire" and the sun's rays to defeat the moon and stars. Every day the battle continues between day and night. The Mexica saw the sunrise as a daily victory for this deity over the forces of darkness.
Huitzilopochtli can only be fed by Chalchihuatl, or the blood of sacrifice, to sustain him in his daily battle. He resides in the seventh heaven of Aztec mythology. The seventh heaven is represented as blue. His temple on the great Pyramid in Tenochtitlan was called Lihuicatl Xoxouqui, or "Blue Heaven". Over 20,000 victims are thought to have been ritually killed at the opening of his great temple in Tenochtitlan during a four day period.
Duran relates that the great temple contained a wooden statue carved to look like a man sitting on a blue wood bench. A serpent pole extended from each corner to give the appearance of the bench as a litter. On his head was placed a headdress in the shape of a bird's beak. A curtain was always hung in front of the image to indicate reverence.
Tlacaelel, the Aztec power broker, is thought to have propelled this god into the place of importance that Huitzilopochtli held, some suggest even re-writing Mexican history.
Huitzilopochtli's creation may have come from the ancient Mexica god "Opochtli", the Left Handed One, and a leading old Chichimec god of weapons and water. He was called "He Who Divides the Waters", and was principal in worship in the Huitzilopochco area and it's famous waters. Opochtli is thought to have been worshipped in ancient Aztlan.
Huitzilopochtli is said to be a representation of Tezcatlipoca in midsummer as the high sun in the southern sky. His name may have derived with his association with the color blue as when staring at the sun, spots of blue are seen by the eyes after looking away. His association with "on the left", was because when facing in the direction of the sun's path, east to west, the sun passed on the left.
Huitzilopochtli was the most celebrated of the Mexican deities and came to embody the aspirations and accomplishments of the Aztec. His cult could have been considered the "state cult" and was a focus of the powerful economic and political system.
Also known as "The Portentous One", as he directed the Mexica on their nomadic trek into the Valley of Mexico through a series of signs and omens. It was Huitzilopochtli who sent the eagle to perch on the nopal cactus to indicate the site of the Mexica's final resting place. His elevation to the rank of a major deity coincided with the formation of the triple alliance between Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan. At this formation of the alliance his recognition as the god of war was complete and total.
As the power of Tenochtitlan grew his image was incorporated into the new lands and regions coming under Mexica control and he assumed new prominence and attributes even to the point of usurping the more traditional sun god, Tonatiuh. His main temple in the great temple of Tenochtitlan, (the Temple Mayor), was set alongside Tlaloc, god of rain, the symbolism of these two deities elevated above all others was a reflection of the economic status of the Mexica empire, (agriculture and war-tribute). Of interest many pictures and statues have survived of Tlaloc and other major deities but relatively few of Huitzilopochtli.
Images of Huitzilopochtli may be found in the Codex Borbonicus in which he is depicted standing in front of a small temple in his honor, in the Codex Telleriano-Remensis, in his capacity as symbol of the month of Panquetzaliztli, and in a dual painting with Paynal, (messenger god), in Sahagun's Primeros Memoriales. His image further adorns the Codex Boturini in his guidance of the Mexica on their wanderings.
In the Codex Azcatitlan he is represented as a combination hummingbird and serpent tail being carried in what might be thought of as a backpack. In the Codex Florentine his birth is recorded as well as his famous battle with the stars. In all painted images his adornments are different, some with a shield of turquoise mosaic, others with a shield of white eagle feathers. The central image in all drawings is that of a warrior and a leader. He is often depicted as a seed dough image or "teixiptla" which was often made and prized during feasts.
Although Huitzilopochtli was worshipped greatly during the entire Mexica year he was of particular importance during the feast of Toxcatl, Dry Thing, Tlaxochimaco, Giving of Flowers, Teotleco, Arrival of Gods, and Panquetzaliztli, Raising of Banners. The feast honoring the raising of banners is generally thought to be his major yearly feast.
Nowhere was Huitzilopochtli more honored than in his main temple atop the great pyramid in Tenochtitlan in the Temple Mayor. His main cult statue stood in the southernmost corner of the twin shrines to him and Tlaloc. The shrine to this deity is described in detail by Duran as well as accounts by several of the soldiers with Cortes, namely Andres de Tapia and Bernal Diaz as well as Cortes himself.
Duran claims to describe the statue based on reports from native informants and from direct interviews with surviving conquistadors. He describes the image as a wooden statue carved to look like a man seated on a blue wooden bench in the form of a liter. The liter poles contained images of serpents long enough to be carried on the shoulder of men. The bench was in the traditional Huitzilopochtli "sky blue" color. The image itself had a blue forehead with a blue band reaching from ear to ear also blue.
The image had a headdress shaped like a hummingbird beak made of gold. The feathers adorning the headdress were a beautiful green. In his left hand he held a shield, white, with five bunches of white feathers in the form of a cross. Four arrows extended from the handle of the shield. In his right hand he held a staff in the image of a serpent which was also blue. Gold bracelets were on his wrists and he wore blue foot sandals. This image was covered from view with a type of curtain adorned with jewels and gold. Bernal Diaz also relates an account and it is certainly worth reading.
Huitzilopochtli shared the top of the great temple with Tlaloc in Texcoco as well as in Tenochtitlan and is described in detail in Pomar's book. Pomar's Huitzilopochtli was an image of a standing young man, made from wood adorned with a cloak of rich feathers and wearing an ornate necklace of jade and turquoise surrounded by golden bells. His body paint was blue with a blue striped face. His hair was of eagle feathers and had a headdress of quetzal (46) feathers.
Oh his shoulder was a form of a hummingbird's head. His legs were adorned and decorated with gold bells. In his hand was held a large spear, a spearthrower, and a feathered shield covered with a lattice work of gold stripes.
There was no greater worshipped image to the Mexica and the stone idol that was atop the pyramid in Tenochtitlan that was removed under the eyes of Cortes. The idol was entrusted to a man called Tlatolatl. Tlatolatl successfully was able to hide this image of Huitzilopochtli as was uncovered during an investigation by the Bishop Zummaraga during the 1530's. The statue has never been found and is probably resting and waiting today in a cave somewhere in northern Mexico.
Listed in the Codex Boturini, the sacred bundle of Huitzilopochtli carried during the wandering years was born by four "bearers", named Tezacoatl, (Mirror Serpent), Chimalma, (Shield Hand), Apanecatl, (Water Headdress), and Cuauhcoatl, (Eagle Serpent). The Codex Azcatitlan shows only two god bearers. Duran agrees that there were four bearers but does not name them. Juan de Torquemada in his "Monarquia indiana also confers the four god bearers. Hernando Alvarado Tezozomoc keeps the bearer Cuauhcoatl but replaces the other three with Quauhtlonquetzque, Axoloa, and Ococaltzin. To further confuse this issue the Cronica Mexicayotl replaces Cuauhcoatl, (Eagle Serpent), with Iztamixcoatzin, (White Cloud Serpent).
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Posted by Raven_Nightwind at 8:49 AM