General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 22 Sep 2017/11 Vulture
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Codex Zouch Nuttall plate 83 warriors

Early unicycle?

At first glance the character at the centre of this image - a detail from plate 83 of the Codex Zouche-Nuttall (original in the British Museum) - looks uncannily like a man riding an early form of unicycle, maybe keeping balance by holding weights in both hands... (Written by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

‘Riding’ a sacrificial stone used in gladiatorial rituals
‘Riding’ a sacrificial stone used in gladiatorial rituals (Click on image to enlarge)

In fact, the poor chap, called 10-Dog, is the unfortunate nephew of famed Mixtec ruler 8-Deer (whose exploits are chronicled in the Codex), and is depicted not on a unicycle but standing atop a temalácatl or sacrificial stone: in traditionally unequal gladiatorial style he’s fighting - armed just with a couple of short sticks - against two heavily armed jaguar warriors, one of whom (on the right) is 8-Deer himself. He’s hindered further by being tied by a rope from the centre of the stone to his waist. The scene is part of a description of a 12th century power struggle between two Mixtec city-states, Tilangtongo and Place of the Death Bundle of Xipe (Totec). The final outcome is the victory of 8-Deer as ruler of the whole Mixteca region. The sacrifice of 10-Dog is dedicated to the god Xipe Totec - you can see 10-Dog is wearing some of Xipe’s characteristic adornments, such as a conical hat and small waistcoat.

• Info thanks to Manuel Lejarazu, adapted from Arqueología Mexicana ‘Códice Nuttall, Lado 1’, Special Edition no. 23
• Image scanned from our own copy of the ADEVA facsimile edition of the Codex Zouche-Nuttall, Graz, Austria, 1987.

This article was uploaded to the Mexicolore website on Oct 27th 2015

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