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General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 29 Mar 2017/3 Rain
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100 Peso Note

‘And then there was one...’

A decade or so ago - as those who have taken part in our workshops will know - several Mexican banknotes bore motifs related to the Aztecs or other pre-Hispanic cultures. Today there appears to be only one... (Written/compiled by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

Pic 1: 1967 One Peso note
Pic 1: 1967 One Peso note (Click on image to enlarge)

Here’s an example (Pic 1) of an older banknote, now 40 years old, with the emblem of the Aztec Sunstone on its face.

Pic2: Netzahualcóyotl on the front of a modern 100 Peso note
Pic2: Netzahualcóyotl on the front of a modern 100 Peso note (Click on image to enlarge)

In 2006 we could only find one modern banknote - the red 100 Peso note - with a connection to ancient Mexico. On the back is the god Xochipilli (‘Flower Prince’) (main picture above). On the front (Pic 2) is the image of the famous poet-prince, Netzahualcóyotl, crowned ruler of Texcoco in 1431.

Pic 3: Xochipilli - original illustration by Phillip Mursell
Pic 3: Xochipilli - original illustration by Phillip Mursell (Click on image to enlarge)

Xochipilli was essentially ‘one of the good guys’ in the ‘pantheon’ of Aztec gods - youthful, fun-loving, associated with summer, flowers and plants, good health, pleasure, wellbeing, the arts, music, dance and general playfulness. He was the patron god of the daysign Monkey, and the monkey was Xochipilli’s ‘nahual’ or companion spirit. His brother was Macuilxóchitl (‘Five-Flower’), god of games, gambling and festivals.

Pic 4: Xochipilli, patron god of the calendar sign Monkey (Codex Borgia, p13)
Pic 4: Xochipilli, patron god of the calendar sign Monkey (Codex Borgia, p13) (Click on image to enlarge)

If you click to enlarge Pic 4, you’ll see clearly Xochipilli’s characteristic yellow hair and red body paint; not nearly so easy to make out in his face - though experts claim it’s there - is the white stylized image of a single butterfly* wing. Can you see it?!

Pic 5: Monkey - no. 11 of the 20 ‘daysigns’
Pic 5: Monkey - no. 11 of the 20 ‘daysigns’

*Perhaps the stylized butterfly in Pic 6 will help you find a similar one in Xochipilli’s face...

Pic 6: Stylized butterfly image, Teotihuacan
Pic 6: Stylized butterfly image, Teotihuacan (Click on image to enlarge)

Anyone born under the favourable sign Monkey could be expected to be gifted with plenty of artistic talents...

Pic 7: Stone sculpture of Xochipilli, National Anthropology Museum, Mexico City
Pic 7: Stone sculpture of Xochipilli, National Anthropology Museum, Mexico City (Click on image to enlarge)

In this stone sculpture of Xochipilli (Pic 7), his arms and legs are painted or tattooed with flowers, and he sits cross-legged on a ritual seat sculpted (on all 4 sides) in the form of a fully opened flower with a butterfly at the bottom drinking nectar from its centre - a symbol of the flowering of the universe. Maddeningly, you can’t see the butterfly - Ian cropped it by mistake when taking the photo! Good reason to go back and re-take it...

The hidden Aztec poem!
The hidden Aztec poem!

Well there you go! We never realised that, Tecpaocelotl, many thanks for pointing this out. Click on the link below to see the poem - it’s hard to read even with a magnifying glass!

Netzahualcóyotl’s hidden poem

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Here's what others have said:

Mexicolore replies: Thank you, Carl, for this insight...
Mexicolore replies: Cheers for this! See our response, above...