I really must devote a word or two to a favorite detail from my Aztec Icon #17, Tepeyollotl—just in case it slipped your notice. It’s my rendition of the Jaguar of the Night, one of the various manifestations of the Heart of the Mountain. The divine Jaguar leaps at the rising sun, greeting it with its roars (those odd wavy sound symbols).
Jaguar of the Night
From Icon #17 Model from Codex Nuttall
One reason I’m showing you this drawing is to sing the praises of my sweet graphics program, GIMP. (You can Google it for free download!) It really makes me feel like a magician. I took the splendid image of a jaguar from Codex Nuttall and with a few adjustments in proportions and position turned the rampant figure into a leaping one. Of course there were many pixels to wrestle with, but that’s the name of the digital drawing game.
Also: I’m quite pleased with this drawing of my totem animal and rather proud of it. Hope you like it too.
For too long I’ve telling folks I’m still plugging away on Icon #17 for the YE GODS! coloring book, and now I can change my tune. At last I’m on the home stretch! Just one more vignette and the figure of Tepeyollotl Himself, the Heart of the Mountain. (I seem to have been keeping the deity itself for the last to be informed by the story of the surrounding details.)
So now it’s high time I give you something in the way of a sneak preview of #17: the Mountain. Actually it’s the two divine volcanoes that loom dangerously over Ciudad de México, deified as Popocatepetl (Smoking Mountain) and Itzaccihuatl (Obsidian Lady).
Popocatepetl and Itzaccihuatl
Here they are shown in the style of Codex Nuttall, Popocatepetl in its smoking majesty and Itzaccihuatl as a bonafide, stern-visaged goddess. Her codex model is iconographically notable being one of the few full-faced figures to be found in Aztec 2-D graphic art. The Maya also preferred profiles (those marvelous foreheads!). 3-D sculpture was of course a different story.
The stylized sigils appearing in each of the “hills” are authentic names of real places. Apart from the self-evident symbol for Popocatepetl, I don’t have a clue what places the others intend.
The above is my second treatment of the divine volcanoes. The first was for a vignette in Icon #7 Huitzilopochtli, Hummingbird of the South, showing the arrival of the Aztecs at Tenochtitlan:
Arrival of Aztecs at Tenochtitlan
In the upcoming icon, beneath these volcanoes resides the Heart of the Mountain. Don’t let this be a spoiler, but you need to know that Tepeyollotl, as most often depicted in the Aztec codices, will be a were-jaguar, an ancient mythological being with possible roots three thousand years before in Peru. Check out this boggling image of the Raimondi Stela from Chavín de Huantar.