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Teocalli of sacred warfare

Aztec Teocalli of sacred warfare

Teocalli of sacred warfare, Mexica/Aztec, 1507, volcanic stone, height 123 cms., National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City.

This extraordinary votive sculpture commemorates the New Fire Ceremony of 1507, which took place during the reign of Moctezuma II. The monument is shaped as the base of a pyramid with steps leading to a temple, a type of structure sacred to the Mexica. The teocalli celebrates the triumph of the sun in the universe and affirms the power of the Mexica after the founding of their city in the year 2-House (1325), the date inscribed on the top of the monolith.
On either side of the steps the cuauhxicalli (vessels containing sacrificial offerings), one covered with jaguar skin and another with eagle feathers, bear the calendar dates 1-Rabbit and 2-Reed. Some experts have interpreted these as representing the year in which the universe was created and the end of a 52-year cycle.
The solar disc recalls the basic purpose of [human] sacrifice. The sun is flanked by Huitzilopochtli on the left and Moctezuma on the right...


Adapted from ‘Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler’ Eds. Colin McEwan and Leonardo López Luján, British Museum Press, 2009, p. 176-7.

Photo by Ana Laura Landa/Mexicolore