General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 22 Sep 2017/11 Vulture
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Professor Vania Smith-Oka

Question for May 2015

Which was the greatest or most famous [Aztec] goddess? Asked by Wickford Junior School. Chosen and answered by Professor Vania Smith-Oka.

Colossal statue of Coatlicue in Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology
Colossal statue of Coatlicue in Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology (Click on image to enlarge)

While the “fame” of each of the members of the Aztec pantheon is likely to be in the eye of the beholder, one of the more well known goddesses is Coatlicue (pronounced, cwa-TLEE-cweh). Her name can be roughly translated as snake (Coatl) skirt (icue). She is best known as the mother of Huitzilopochtli (wee-tsee-loh-POSH-tlee), the god of war, one of the more important gods for the Aztecs. Legend has it that Coatlicue became pregnant when she picked up a ball of feathers and tucked it into her garments as she was sweeping a temple. Her daughter, Coyolxauqui (coh-yoh-SHAU-kee), becomes jealous and incites her four hundred brothers, the many stars, to attack their mother Coatlicue. Huitzilopochtli, angered by his sister’s attack on his mother, emerges from her fully formed and ready for battle, killing Coxolxauqui and dismembering her body. Coatlicue is thus an important part of the Aztec pantheon as the mother of the god of war. She is also often considered a representation of nature and, in true Aztec duality, she is both life and death embodied.

Photo
By Luidger/Wikipedia (Coatlicue).

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