General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 27 Feb 2021/4 Dog
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Tonatiuh the sun god, Codex Borgia pl. 23 (detail)

What animals were associated with the sun in Mesoamerican culture?

ORIGINAL QUESTION received from - and thanks to - José: What animals were associated with the sun in Mesoamerican culture? (The main image (right) is of Tonatiuh, the Central Mexican sun god, from the Codex Borgia). (Answered by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore).

Pic 1: A rabbit carries the moon and a deer carries the sun - drawing based on the Codex Borgia, pl. 33
Pic 1: A rabbit carries the moon and a deer carries the sun - drawing based on the Codex Borgia, pl. 33 (Click on image to enlarge)

The two most directly associated would be the eagle and the jaguar - both of which leapt into the great fire to give birth to the Fifth and present Sun, according to Aztec mythology. It seems that the jaguar appears first in terms of the earliest clear representations of the sun (god), in a depiction of the Maya kin sign for sun/day, in present-day Belize, and also in Central Mexico.
Other creatures had solar connections too, however:-
• The deer can be seen carrying the sun opposite a rabbit carrying the moon in the Codex Borgia (see pic 1) - according to Alfredo López Austin the idea of rain falling and the sun appearing at the same time evokes an ancient concept of a doe (female deer) giving birth in northern Mexico
• The hummingbird also has connections to the sun, in part through the solar deity Huitzilopochtli (‘Left-handed Hummingbird’) (follow the link below on special birds).
• Finally, we think the (scarlet) macaw with its fiery colours may have been the ‘companion spirit’ of the sun, just as it is for the Pueblo people of the Southwestern USA.

Sources:-
The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya by Mary Miller and Karl Taube, Thames and Hudson, London, 1993
The Rabbit on the Face of the Moon by Alfredo López Austin, University of Utah Press, 1996.

Image sources:-
• Main pic: image scanned from our own copy of the ADEVA facsimile edition of the Codex Borgia, Graz, Austria, 1976
• Pic 1: illustration scanned from The Rabbit on the Face of the Moon (see above).

‘Especial Birds in the Americas’

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