Aztec Icon #7 – HUITZILOPOCHTLI, Hummingbird of the South

Let’s get back to my coloring book of Aztec icons called YE GODS!  THE AZTEC ICONS.  Here comes the big guy, the patron deity of the Aztec tribe (the Mexica), a war god, oddly named for a tiny bird.

In all good conscience, I must apologize for the exuberance of miniature detail in this drawing, but it’s all necessary to tell his story. The motifs in the icon are modelled on images from several codices too numerous to mention.  If you find the vignettes too tiny to work with, all I can suggest is to blow the image up to maybe 200X.

Meanwhile, since this icon is so detailed, I’ll give some more notes below, after the caption.

Don’t worry, you can still see or download the previous six icons by clicking on them in the list on the page for the coloring book .


(Hummingbird of the South)

To download this icon as a pdf file with a page of caption and model images from the Aztec Codices, right click here and select “Save Target (or Link) As.”  You can also download it in freely sizable vector drawings from the coloring book page.


HUITZILOPOCHTLI {hwee-tsil-o-poch-tłee} is the god of war, power, force, action, accomplishment, and nobility, as well as patron of the city of Tenochtitlan and god of the South. As patron god of the Mexica (Aztecs), he was credited with both their victories and defeats on the battlefield, requiring sacrificial human hearts in either case. He is sometimes called the Blue Tezcatlipoca, the sun at mid-day, and as Lord of the warriors of the day, the Eagle Knights, he wields the Xiuhcoatl (Fire Snake) with which he slew his 400 brothers.  Son of Coatlicue (Snake Skirt), he led the Mexica people on their epic migration from legendary Chicomoztoc (Seven Caves) into the Valley of Anahuac.



The god surmounts a symbol of the sun at zenith. Central above him rises the Tree (cacao) of the South in which sits an unidentified Bird of the South.  To the left of it crouches an Eagle Knight, and to the left is the god’s birth day-name, One Flint.

The figured frame, starting on the upper left and running traditionally counterclockwise, presents episodes in the many-year migration of the Mexica. Largely it reflects Fray Durán’s account in his 16th-century “History of the Aztecs.”  The vignettes down the left side represent:

  • Departure from the mythical homeland of Aztalan and long wandering in the desert.
  • Settling down in Chicomoztoc (Seven Caves) for many years.
  • Birth there of Huitzilopochtli (including the beheading of the god’s mother Coatlicue and slaughter of his multitudinous brothers).
  • Migrating on and conquering the Red City (probably Gran Chichimec in Sonora).
  • Abandoning the god’s sorceress sister Malinalxochitl.
  • Settling down at Coatepec and executing the god’s conspirator sister Coyolxauhqui.
  • Migrating on and killing the god’s nephew Copil, son of Malinalxochitl.
  • Flaying the “Woman of Discord,” daughter of the king of the city of Colhuacan.
  • The five day-signs, Lizard, Rabbit, Grass, Vulture, and Flower (bottom center) are symbols of the South as well, noting the direction of the migration.

Rising from the lower right, the vignettes represent:

  • Arrival of the Mexica at Tenochtitlan, Place of the Cactus, an island in Lake Texcoco (with volcanoes Popocatepetl and Itzacihuatl in the background).
  • Merchants (pochteca) with their god Yacatecuhtli trading with many cities.
  • Warriors conquering many other cities.
  • Warriors capturing prisoners for sacrifice.
  • Priest sacrificing people atop the double temple of Huitzilopochtli and the storm god Tlaloc, now known as El Templo Mayor in Mexico City.