General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 19 Apr 2021/3 Alligator
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Who created Mictlantecuhtli and Mictecacihuatl?

ORIGINAL QUESTION received from - and thanks to - Nicole: Hope this email finds you well. I’ve been reading your website for many years now and you’re definitely one of my biggest sources of information and inspiration since I love studying Mythologies! Thank you for the hard work you’re doing. I have been doing some research for a project and I’ve been trying to do the family tree of the main Aztec Deities even if there are many possible versions. I know it varies from different sources but I would like to know who created the Deities Mictlantecuhtli and Mictecacíhuatll? I know some sources say that they were created by the four Tezcatlipocas. Is there a possibility that they were maybe children of Ometeotl? Thank you for your time! (Answered by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore).

Aztec deities Mictecacihuatl (L) and Mictlantecuhtli (R) in Mictlan receiving the soul of someone who has died of sickness; Codex Borgia pl. 57 (detail)
Aztec deities Mictecacihuatl (L) and Mictlantecuhtli (R) in Mictlan receiving the soul of someone who has died of sickness; Codex Borgia pl. 57 (detail) (Click on image to enlarge)

Many thanks for your kind words.
One of the most authoritative sources of information on Mexica deities without a doubt is the four-volume work by Salvador Mateos Higuera, part of the Enciclopedia gráfica del México antiguo. In his entries on these two deities (in Los dioses creados), he states that they were the creation of two of the four ‘top gods’ (themselves sons of Ometeotl) - specifically, it was Quetzalcóatl and Huitzilopochtli who were ‘commissioned’ to create them. One of his key sources is the Historia de los mexicanos por sus pinturas. However he goes on to accept that ‘other chronicles attribute Quetzalcóatl and Tezcatlipoca with said creations’ (our translation). So it seems safe to conclude that Quetzalcóatl was definitely involved but that doubt exists about the other deity...

Source: Los dioses creados by Salvador Mateos Higuera, Enciclopedia gráfica del México antiguo, Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público, Mexico City, 1993.

Image from the Codex Borgia scanned from our own copy of the ADEVA facsimile edition, Graz, Austria, 1976.

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Mexicolore replies: Many thanks again, Nicole, for your kind words of encouragement. We love to be able to help if we can...