Icon #19 – TEZCATLIPOCA, the Smoking Mirror

I’m happy to announce the completion of Icon #19 – Tezcatlipoca, the Smoking Mirror. Once again, the designs and motifs in this icon are drawn from images in the surviving pre-Conquest Aztec codices. It and the preceding 18 icons can be downloaded as .pdf files with captions from the YE GODS! coloring book page.

Tezcatlipoca, the Smoking Mirror

First, I should offer some tips for coloring if you’re so inclined:

1) The black stripes on the faces of the upper left and right figures should be paired with yellow, which is the emblematic color-scheme for this deity; in the original, the upper central figure is mostly white with a few color highlights—at your discretion.

2) All those sacrificial knives (flints) in the borders are supposed to be half white and half red, in whatever pattern you choose.

3) The patterns on the limbs and face of the main figure are supposed to be red tattoos; I should also note that in the original he has brown hair.

4) The hair-like figure flowing from the head of the monster should be red blood as well as the apparent stream from the deity’s severed leg. The rest of the colors are up to you.

The horned owl at top center is Tezcatlipoca’s personal “volatile” symbol (many deities have one). The upper figures are some of his various manifestations. The main scene is the story of the god’s battle with the Earth Monster (Cipactli) in which he lost a foot and then created the First Sun (or world), Four Jaguar, on her back. The day-signs along the bottom are those representing the direction North, with Jaguar numbered as four to name the Sun being created just above. The dots along the side are the numeral 10, of which Tezcatlipoca is patron, and they also indicate that he is the 10th lord of the Day.

That should be enough to get you going. As soon as I can, I’ll post the icon on the coloring book page in vectors so it can be sized freely with no change in line quality. Now, when I’ve caught my breath, I’ll move on to Icon #20 – Tlaloc, the Storm God.

Visions of Tezcatlipoca

In the couple months since my last posting about the Maid in New Orleans, my self-incarceration for the Corona virus has made it easy to focus on the last chapters of my second memoir “Lord Wind” (soon to be posted for free download), and drawing on Icon #19: Tezcatlipoca, the Smoking Mirror, for the coloring book YE GODS!

Like the 18 previous deities in the series, this icon is modelled on images from the few surviving Aztec codices and reflects the mythology summarized in my illustrated encyclopedia of the Aztec pantheon. The icon will present several visions of Tezcatlipoca, who is sometimes called The Black One. I offer here two of the vignettes as “teasers.”

The first is Tezcatlipoca as an eagle, which is based on an image from a calendar week in Codex Rios. I’ve re-created this unusual manifestation of the deity using the stylistics of Codex Nuttall and certain motifs from Codex Borgia. (The eagle is a symbol of power and dominance.)

Tezcatlipoca as eagle

The second is Tezcatlipoca manifesting as Itztlacoliuhqui (Curved Obsidian Blade), who is the god of stone, cold, sin, punishment, objectivity, and blind justice. This surreal image is a re-working of one from Codex Borbonicus, though similar, sometimes even more surreal, details can be found in other codices as well. It presents some striking innovations in the stylebook of Aztec iconography and raises questions about certain motifs. Your guess about what they mean is as good as mine.

Tezcatlipoca as Itztlacoliuhqui

One of these solitary days I’ll finish this icon. I’m still waiting for some final tweaks on the vectors for Icon #18: Xochipilli, Prince of Flowers. Meanwhile, like everything else, my show of larger icons at the Ohkay Casino and Conference Center has been locked down… In this “unprecedented” viral situation, the show of smaller icons lies in storage with no prospective venues.

I have no options but to keep on with the drawing—next will be Tlaloc, the Storm God—and like Candide, work in my garden. My 35 varieties of iris are just now coming into bloom to bring joy to this best of all possible worlds.

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