General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 24 Nov 2017/9 Rain
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The Aztec design Flower

Flower Power

It is extraordinary to discover just how many meanings Flower - Xochitl - could have in the poetic language and world of the Mexica. Here are a few... (Written by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

Aztec women with flowers - detail of mural by Antonio González Orozco, Hospital de Jesús Nazareno, Mexico City
Aztec women with flowers - detail of mural by Antonio González Orozco, Hospital de Jesús Nazareno, Mexico City (Click on image to enlarge)

• ‘Flowers of god’ or ‘flowers of the heart’ - human hearts
• ‘Flowers’ - poems or songs
• ‘Lofty flowers’ - the beauty of singing/song
• ‘Flowers of life’ or ‘flowers of red nectar’ - blood
• ‘War flowers’, ‘eagle flowers’ or ‘battle flowers’ - prisoners
• ‘Intoxicated with war flowers’ - a warrior’s strength in the heat of battle
• And of course xochiyaoyotl - ‘war of flowers’ - refers to the unique type of war embarked on by the Mexica as their imperial power grew, in which battles were fought at pre-arranged times and places with neighbouring tribes with the specific purposes of capturing sacrificial victims, and of training novice warriors in the art of combat.
Note too that at least three Mexica deities had associations with flowers - Xochipilli, Macuilxochitl and Xochiquetzal - patrons of beauty, pleasure and the arts.

A large flower symbol stands out on the base of Xochipilli’s statue, National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
A large flower symbol stands out on the base of Xochipilli’s statue, National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City (Click on image to enlarge)

The well-known stone sculpture of Xochipilli in Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology is covered with flowers and butterflies - symbols of the god of music and song. In their rituals and celebrations the senses came together to express beauty, love and a desire to reach out to other worlds; flowers were linked to certain hallucinogenic plants, to perfume and scent, to bells and rattles, to status (only certain people could carry around bouquets of certain flowers), to physical pleasure of all kinds...

Linguistic source: Mitos y Literatura Azteca by José Alcina Franch, Alianza Editorial, 1989, p.19.

Main image designed for Mexicolore by Felipe Dávalos
Photos by Eva Sánchez Fernández and Ana Laura Landa/Mexicolore.

This article was uploaded to the Mexicolore website on Jun 22nd 2017

‘Fondess for flowers...’

Learn more about Xochipilli, flowers and butterflies...

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