General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 24 Sep 2017/13 Flint
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Aztec drinking ceremony performed on 2-Rabbit, Florentine Codex

The Luck of the Straw

The Mexica (Aztecs) loved the ‘winner-takes-all’ approach to competitions. We can see this in the ritual ballgame (whoever got the ball through the hoop could ‘sweep the board’ in terms of prizes), in the ‘board’ game patolli, and in a particularly delightful competition performed on Day 2-Rabbit as part of the ceremonies dedicated to the octli (pulque or fermented cactus juice) deities by the octli priests, called Centzontotochtin. Their leader, called Pahtecatl, must have enjoyed himself preparing the following game... (Written by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

The stone basin for drinking ‘octli’ was called a ‘two-rabbit vessel’. The rabbit was strongly associated with the moon and with the sacred drink...
The stone basin for drinking ‘octli’ was called a ‘two-rabbit vessel’. The rabbit was strongly associated with the moon and with the sacred drink... (Click on image to enlarge)

Book IV of the Florentine Codex reveals all: Pahtecatl would gather together all the Centzontotochtin singer-priests (‘indeed all of them - none should fail [to attend]’), set up the ‘rabbit’ [pulque] jars and filled them with ‘sacred’ pulque. Next he gathered and carefully laid out 260 reed straws (in the sacred calendar day 2-Rabbit, a day specially dedicated to the octli cult, came round only once every 260 days); but only one of the straws was actually hollow and worked! He proceeded to lead the Centzontotochtin in a merry dance and procession, following which all the priests rushed and jostled to try and find the genuine straw. Whoever found it was allowed to drink ALL the alcoholic pulque, and was ‘left alone’ to enjoy his good fortune...

Images from the Florentine Codex (original in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence) scanned from our own copy of the Club Internacional del Libro 3-volume facsimile edition, Madrid, 1994.

emoticon Q. Just how lucky was the priest who could drink ALL the pulque?
A. ExSTRAWdinarily lucky!

Learn more about pulque...

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