Aztec Lords of the Night

After finishing Icon #19 for my coloring book, and before jumping on the next one, I’ve been plugging along on another Aztec project, this one in color! Some time ago I decided to “re-create” the calendar from 16th-century Codex Rios, apparently a slightly later Italian copy of the Codex Telleriano-Remensis. Both of them offer fairly crude versions of deities and day-signs, with Rios tending to be at least a little more “artistic,” and both present the ceremonial count of days in disjointed pieces. So my re-creation will also be a re-construction.

In Codices Borgia and Vaticanus, the 13-day week (trecena) is laid out simply with ruling deities and the day-count. In Codex Borbonicus and Tonalamatl Aubin, the Lords of the Day and Night are included, but hard to differentiate, as well as their totem birds, mostly of dubious species.

Codices Rios and Telleriano-Remensis accompany the day-count and patron deities only with the nine Lords of the Night in a super-cycle that takes some centuries to complete. In sequence, the Lords of the Night preside over the nights of each calendar day and at the same time, in sequence, they preside over each of the nine hours of those nights.

Forgive me for saying this, but in these two related calendars, the images of the Lords are really sloppy, even slap-dash, though the deities are drawn with consistent, if careless, motifs. It would be rude to show you the original images of those abused Lords of the Night. Instead, refining their iconographic details, I’ve re-created them with more realistic faces in the style of Codices Fejervary-Mayer and/or Laud.

You can check them all out in greater detail in my Aztec pantheon, but here are some artist’s notes on these Lords of the Night.

1st Lord: Xiuhtecuhtli—Lord of the Turquoise/(Fire). Perhaps he has a red mouth from eating fire? The peaked headdress and red ribbon are standard emblems.

2nd Lord: Itztli—Obsidian. He’s a nagual (manifestation) of Tezcatlipoca, the Smoking Mirror. Again, I don’t know what the standard black markings on his face signify, but those things in his “hat” are sacrificial flint knives.

3rd Lord: Pilzintecuhtli—Young Lord. God of the planet Mercury, he is also a “sun-lord” as shown by the sun in his headdress. I can’t explain his golden hair, but all the Lords’ hair-colors are inexplicably the same as these in the earlier, purely Mexican codex.

4th Lord: Centeotl—God of Maize. Check out the cobs of maize in his headdress.

5th Lord: Mictlantecuhtli—Lord of the Land of the Dead. In this most appealing image I’ve ever found of the death-god, the black lower face is standard. (The pointy thing in the headdress is reminiscent of the regalia of the god Itztlacoliuhqui.)

6th Lord: Chalchiuhtlicue—Jade Skirt. She’s the ancestral Great Goddess from ancient Teotihuacan.

7th Lord: Tlazolteotl—Goddess of Filth. Her mouth is black from eating people’s filth/sins. I can’t identify the tasseled objects in her headdress.

8th Lord: Tepeyollotl—Heart of the Mountain. His tri-color face (and yellow hair) are standard features for this god in these calendars.

9th Lord: Tlaloc—God of Storms. His goggle-eyed, long-toothed visage is emblematic in most codex contexts.



Well, I haven’t heard anybody squawk about my going another couple weeks without a new posting.  Site stats show very few visits to this blog, though a respectable number of visitors every day to my earlier Aztec deity and calendar images.  Usually somebody even takes a look at my Indian mound photos or drawings of Pre-Columbian artifactsI guess this erratic blog is simply a matter of writing, as we used to say, to hear myself talk.  So be it.

This time I’ve been quiet for other than busy-ness, though there’s been plenty of that in any case.  Now I’ve simply not been able to spend much time online because my grandson visited a couple weeks ago and in one evening of YouTube managed to use up most of the monthly data allotment on my wireless connection—a subject you don’t want to read about, I assure you.

Writing on my memoir is moving along into Chapter 5, so that’s progress.  Drawing for the free coloring book is proceeding at its usual slow pace.  For sanity’s sake, I try to switch back and forth between the subjects every week or so and am now closing in on the sixth Aztec icon of Huehuecoyotl, the Old Coyote.  There are only a few vignettes and musical details to finish.  The problem is not thinking about the next icon for Huitzilopochtli, the Hummingbird of the South, which will also show the legendary migration of the Aztecs from Aztalan to Tenochtitlan.  Please be patient, all you colorists out there.  I’m working as fast as I can.

Meanwhile, here’s the second icon for the coloring book:  CHALCHIUHTLICUE, the goddess of flowing (fresh) water as in rivers, streams, and lakes.  (The goddess of the sea or salt water is Huixtocihuatl.)  To download this icon as a pdf file with a page of caption and model images from the Aztec Codices, just right click here and select “Save Target (or Link) As.”  You can also download freely sizable vector drawings from the coloring book page.


(She of the Jade Skirt) {chal-chewh-tłee-kwe}

Chalchiuhtlicue, The Jade Skirt, Goddess of Flowing Water

Chalchiuhtlicue, The Jade Skirt, Goddess of Flowing Water

CHALCHIUHTLICUE is goddess of flowing water, rivers, and streams, as well as of youthful beauty and ardor with a birth day-name of Ce Atl (One Water).  She is patron of women in labor, childbirth, children, and motherhood.  Certain of her purification rites struck Spanish clergy as similar to the sacrament of baptism.  As goddess of storms and forces of nature, she can be dangerous.  She is the 6th lord of the night (which has 9 hours), and the 3rd lord of the day (of the 13-day week).  The wife of TLALOC and/or possibly XIUHTECUHTLI and mother of TECCIZTECATL and/or the twins QUETZALCOATL and XOLOTL, she destroyed the Third Sun (Four Rain) and ruled the Fourth Sun (Four Water).