Aztec Gods
June 17, 2022 9:35 AM   Subscribe

ok wow I am loving these posts about ancient civilizations and their stuff! thanks
posted by supermedusa at 9:52 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]

This is a really nicely put together website. Thanks!

(If we're picking favorites, I stan Huēhuecoyōtl. But, I can't deny that Xipe Totec has some real style.)
posted by eotvos at 9:52 AM on June 17

I absolutely love this. Took me too long to find my pal Tlaloc, though.
posted by orrnyereg at 9:54 AM on June 17

Also, TIL that Coatlicue is the source of the La Llorona stories.
posted by orrnyereg at 9:57 AM on June 17

I slowly have been learning about some of this as I try to learn more about Meso-American religious iconography, particularly from Teotihuacan. Which isn't Aztec but has a similar graphic approach in its art. Does this site have a detailed deconstruction of all 100 or so gods that I missed? Or just the two or three that are illustrated in detail?

It'd be interesting to see a similar treatment of Christian iconography. Particularly the saints and their various symbols. The Jesse Tree is also really interesting read this way.
posted by Nelson at 10:08 AM on June 17

Nelson, I didn't see that sort of detail on the website except for the few highlighted gods. The Miller and Taube book in the references is a (very long, very detailed, somewhat old) text that seems to be well respected by people who study such things and might be of interest. There's also a lot of written stuff about the Codex Borgia (Codex Yoalli Ehēcatl) online, but finding stuff that's true and accessible may be a bit hit and miss. (I'm absolutely not an expert or actually knowledgeable in any of this, but I do live with and share a bookshelf with someone who is.)
posted by eotvos at 10:21 AM on June 17 [2 favorites]

Amazing! The breakdown of the iconography is exactly the itch I want scratched when it comes to exploring imagery from different cultures.

I get so much more with the nuance. Instead of just the label "God of Death", it's "this god was associated with death, but also had all these aspects related to fertility and rebirth and other things and here's how they fit into the pantheon".
posted by ishmael at 10:22 AM on June 17 [3 favorites]

I appreciate the fuller picture of a culture.
posted by ishmael at 10:22 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]

Great post; great site. thanks!
posted by calgirl at 11:04 AM on June 17

Where was this article when I was planning my Meso-American themed D&D campaign last year?
posted by cirrostratus at 1:41 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]

Very cool! I've admired the Dover Books edition of the Codex Borgia, but even with detailed notes it's pretty opaque to a casual reader like me. A short primer on "how to look" is super helpful.
posted by Gerald Bostock at 2:13 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]

Very nifty.
posted by Saucywench at 2:48 PM on June 17

If you like fast talking speed runs through mythology, you might appreciate Overly Sarcastic Productions's videos.
Example: the Five Suns (ages) of the Aztec creation myth
posted by bartleby at 3:35 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]

themed D&D campaign
Heh. I have a Star Trek fic where one of the first successful emergency saucer separations is the USS Moctezuma. The saucer, after reentry and landing, is renamed the Tezcatlipoca (smoking mirror/burning disk) and the drive section remains in orbit as the Quetzalcoatl (flying serpent).
posted by bartleby at 3:47 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]

I'm always infuriated at the Spanish colonialists for destroying so much of the culture of Mesoamerica. There are so many hints of a rich and deep mythology and religion, now preserved as only scraps. The Aztecs were are pretty awful government, but it's sad to lose all that texture.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:27 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]

I'm always infuriated at the Spanish colonialists for destroying so much of the culture of Mesoamerica
Every time I'm reminded of it, I'm amazed at just how much harm Diego de Landa, in particular, managed to do. (Mostly by devastating Yucatán Maya culture, not specifically the central Mexico stuff in this post.) I'm sure a lot would have been destroyed in other ways, but that one specific asshole can do that much damage to thousands of years of history is amazing. I'm not a fan of great men of history narratives, but the great villains of history are hard to argue against.
posted by eotvos at 5:01 PM on June 17 [8 favorites]

If you like the part of this site showing the composition of Aztec iconography, you might be interested in the University of Oregon's Visual Lexicon of Aztec Hieroglyphs. The glyphs cataloged therein are mostly from the colonial era Codex Mendoza, but you can find tecpatl, panitl, and xiquipilli just the same...
posted by Mister Cheese at 6:50 PM on June 17 [8 favorites]

> but I do live with and share a bookshelf with someone who is.

The two profoundly different degrees of intimacy 'living with' and 'sharing a bookshelf with' imply is amazing.
posted by madhadron at 9:06 PM on June 17 [3 favorites]

Mister Cheese, that landing-page image (four times in a row) is the prettiest way imaginable to write “FY 1521 Q2”.

This is a gem of a post, dhruva! Thank you.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 9:35 PM on June 17

I'm scarred by Gary Jennings and his terrible imagination but forever grateful for his immaculate research. I love this, thank you for sharing.
posted by h00py at 3:57 AM on June 18

Thanks for this. Really, thank you!🧡
posted by james33 at 3:59 AM on June 18

I showed this site to a classical Nahuatl scholar at dinner last night. She was really impressed with it.

The only significant complaint was about including Ometeotl, who (I'm told) is not an Aztec god by any reasonable definition of "Aztec.". They are a god that contemporary Nahuatl speakers talk about, but seem to be a 20th century invention that uses some elements from older gods. Weirdly, the sources listed on the page itself say the same thing, which makes choosing to highlight that god seem odd. The only other complaints were about some spelling conventions, which I'm told are not too strange but appear to be written with very Spanish conventions rather than by someone who speaks the language. There were some very detailed comments about the sources used that I won't try to repeat, 'cause I'm sure I'll get them wrong. But, I was impressed that the criticism was so very reserved compared to pretty much any popular representation of this stuff I've ever heard her talk about. Cheers!
posted by eotvos at 4:02 AM on June 18 [8 favorites]

eotvos, I'm no Aztec slouch myself and that also jumped out at me. As did the fact that they called Tezcatlipoca's shield a mirror and his atlatl darts "spears." His mirror is actually the pendant on his chest, and Aztec spears (tepoztopilli) are very different for atlatl darts. I brought this up on another website and the creator(s) acknowledged it was still an early project and seemed open to criticism to improve going forward.
posted by Panjandrum at 5:05 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]

Not only is Aztec history and cosmology IAF, the names of the gods make for great passwords that no one can spell :-)
posted by Oh_Bobloblaw at 9:01 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

His mirror is actually the pendant on his chest, and Aztec spears (tepoztopilli) are very different for atlatl darts.
I love metafilter. Thanks!
posted by eotvos at 1:47 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]

His mirror is actually the pendant on his chest, and Aztec spears (tepoztopilli) are very different for atlatl darts.

Good catch Panjandrum.

Also, it's always irked me how "tlacoch" or "tlacochli" gets translated as "darts". Feels diminutive, like how Jun Gwo gets translated as "middle kingdom" instead of "the central state".

I suppose because it's done because of the fletching and to differentiate them from arrows? In which case, I think "bolts" would be a better word.
posted by ishmael at 2:41 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]

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