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Tlaltecuhtli Cult was Exclusively for Priesthood
Tlaltecuhtli Monolith. Photo: Hector Montaño/INAH.

MEXICO CITY.- Cult to dual deity Tlaltecuhtli (lord/lady) among Mexica people was restricted to priesthood, as pointed out by archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, who remarked that despite the great impact it had in Aztec worldview, as birth and life giver, there is no temple known to present devoted exclusively to Tlaltecuhtli.

During his participation in the conference series “Gods in Codices” organized by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), Matos Moctezuma remarked that according to sources, there is no register of Tlaltecuhtli festivities in Aztec calendar, although it is considered one of the most important deities of Mexica pantheon.

For what is known through codices, the cult to this deity was reserved to priests who were in charge of presenting the offerings.

The INAH emeritus professor commented that at present there are more than 40 Tlaltecuhtli representations, outstanding the zoomorphic, feminine one, with her mouth open, showing her fangs; the joints present a skull mask, she has claws, and her legs are open. Her main function was to devour corpses.

“Tlaltecuhtli devoured and then gave birth to them through her womb, wherever their destiny pointed out. The deity had the dual function of consuming and giving birth to earthly beings. She had a great impact in Mexica society, awakening fear and respect as Kali in India” declared Matos Moctezuma.

“Tlaltecuhtli is also represented as part of other Aztec deities; for instance, she appears on the inferior side of Coatlicue monumental sculpture exhibited at the National Museum of Anthropology, as well as on the bottom of the Chac Mool found in 1947 in Guatemala Street, Mexico City”, he pointed out.

In other feminine representation, the most abundant, the dual deity shows her back, because she is essentially with her chest on the ground. In the masculine representations, the same iconographic elements appear but showing the front, mentioned the archaeologist.

At the conference series developed by the National Library of Anthropology and History (BNAH) the archaeology doctor pointed out that according to recent investigations, we now know that Tlaltecuhtli sculptures were deposited face up or upside down, when carved on great blocks; if represented on vessels, it occupied the inferior side, because it had to be facing the ground.

The Tlaltecuhtli monolithic sculpture found in front of Templo Mayor in October 2nd, 2006 is 4 meters high by 3.5, approximately 40 centimeters thick, and weights 12 tons. Its size allows perceiving the magnificent carving, outstanding the huge mouth from where a blood torrent exits, and a skin covering, concluded Matos Moctezuma.

National Institute of Anthropology and History | National Museum of Anthropology | Chac Mool | National Library of Anthropology and History | Tlaltecuhtli |

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