General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 20 Apr 2021/4 Wind
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Are there any records of albinism in Ancient Mexico?

ORIGINAL QUESTION received from - and thanks to - Luna Eclaire: Are there any records of albinism in Ancient Mexico? What beliefs existed around it? I’ve been following your page for a while, your work is great. Thank you for it. Greetings from Mexico! (Answer compiled by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

Solar eclipse; ‘Primeros Memoriales’ (Sahagún) fol. 282r (detail)
Solar eclipse; ‘Primeros Memoriales’ (Sahagún) fol. 282r (detail) (Click on image to enlarge)

What an interesting question. We could only find one reference to this, flagged up in the excellent short book by Alfredo López Austin The Rabbit on the Face of the Moon. He translates as ‘albino’ the Nahuatl term tlacaztalmicoa which Dibble and Anderson translate as ‘people of light complexion’. They’re quoting the Florentine Codex Book 7, Chapter 1, which describes the panic surrounding a solar eclipse in ancient Mexico.
López Austin, a world authority on Mesoamerican mythology, translates the Nahuatl text as follows:-
When this occurs [the sun] turns red. It is no longer quiet, no longer tranquil. It is only balancing itself. There is immediate turmoil. People are restless, there is an uproar, fear and weeping. People wail, give cries of alarm, scream, clamour, rattle hawk bells. ALBINOS ARE SACRIFICED. Captives are sacrificed. People shed their own blood, piercing their ears with reeds, and flowery songs are sung in the temples. The noise continues, the wailing persists. It was said ‘If it comes to an end, if the Sun is eaten, everything will be dark forever. the [feminine monster called] tzitzimime will come down to devour the people.’
(Emphasis added).
Learn more about the tzitzimime from the link below...

Quote from The Rabbit on the Face of the Moon: Mythology in the Mesoamerican Tradition by Alfredo López Austin, University of Utah Press, 1996, p. 62.
Nahuatl reference from Florentine Codex Book 7 - The Sun, Moon, and Stars, and the Binding of the Years, translated by Arthur J.O. Anderson and Charles E. Dibble, School of American Research/University of Utah, 1953, p. 2.
Image scanned from our own copy of Primeros Memoriales by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, Facsimile Edition, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, 1993.

‘Goddesses of the Month: Tzitzimime’

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