General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 19 Apr 2021/3 Alligator
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Water monster plaque

Aztec stone plaque with image of an ‘ahuizotl’

Aztec stone plaque with an image of an ahuizotl, National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City (originally from the Templo de Tepozteco, Tepoztlan).

On a mountain top in the Tepoztlan range in Morelos the Aztec conquerors built one of the most impressive pre-Hispanic temples. The building commemorates the victories of Ahuizotl, the eighth Aztec ruler, whose many roles included that of supreme military commander of the army from the royal house of Tenochtitlan. This plaque shows his name glyph, the ‘ahuizotl’ (‘water-thorn beast’), a quasi-mythical creature shown here in profile, sitting on his hindquarters and with a very long tail ending in a human hand. According to legend, this hand seized men and held them under water to drown them. You can see a stream of water issuing from its throat and flowing over its shoulders...

Adapted from ‘Aztecs’ (Royal Academy of Arts exhibition catalogue, London, 2002), p.450.

Photo by Ana Laura Landa/Mexicolore

Learn more about the ahuizotl