General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 19 Sep 2017/8 Reed
Text Size:

Search the Site (type in white box):

Article suitable for older students

Was Xochiquetzal a female Aztec warrior?

ORIGINAL QUESTION received from - and thanks to - Gloria Valerio: Someone told me that in the codex cospi they mentioned that Xochiquetzal was a female aztec warrior? Is this true? How can I research this. Are there any history books, articles, internet websites that I can research for more information? Are there any books that reference female aztec warriors? (Answered/compiled by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

Pic 1: Xochiquetzal as depicted in the Codex Cospi (reverse, fol. 25, detail)
Pic 1: Xochiquetzal as depicted in the Codex Cospi (reverse, fol. 25, detail) (Click on image to enlarge)

Xochiquetzal (‘Precious Flower’) IS shown in the Codex Cospi bearing arms (arrows and a shield) (see pic 1), though this is the ONLY depiction of her in the codices carrying weapons. As the goddess of love, flowers and arts and crafts we certainly wouldn’t expect to see her depicted as a warrior, so what are we to make of this image?

Pic 2: The same image, from ‘Los Dioses Supremos’
Pic 2: The same image, from ‘Los Dioses Supremos’ (Click on image to enlarge)

We asked Davide Domenici, Assistant Professor at the Department of History and Cultures, University of Bologna (Italy) (where the Codex Cospi is housed) and a world expert on the Codex, to comment. He writes:-
’As for Xochiquetzal, I think that the fact that the goddess is represented with weapons doesn’t mean at all that in the Aztec world there were female warriors. The representation of a god (or a goddess) as a warrior was meant to allude to his/her potentially destructive powers or negative influences, that is, precisely what the offering rituals were aimed at controlling. Nevertheless, there are images of “Warrior queens” in Maya art, but I think it is probably more a metaphor of their power than an actual representation of female military activity.’
As for sources on the subject of Aztec female warriors, we’re not aware of a single one specifically on this subject, but several works on the general theme of Mexica warriors contain brief sections on the role of women in Aztec warfare. One good example is Guerreros Aztecas by Marco Antonio Cervera Obregón (Nowtilus, Madrid, 2011) - see ‘La Mujer en la Actividad Militar Mexica’, pp 87-89.

We hope this helps a little...

Picture sources:-
• Pic 1: Image from the Codex Cospi scanned from our own copy of the ADEVA facsimile edition, Graz, Austria, 1968
• Pic 2: Image scanned from our own copy of Los Dioses Supremos by Salvador Mateos Higuera, Enciclopedia Gráfica del México Antiguo, Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público, Mexico, 1992, p. 285.

Learn more about Xochiquetzal...

Comment button

Here's what others have said: