General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 1 Mar 2021/6 Grass
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2nd month in the Aztec farming calendar

The Aztec second ‘month’

The second in a series of short pieces that Zoe Ann Steenberge has kindly sent us, detailing the main points of the 18 months in the Aztec/Mexica ‘xiuhpohualli’ or farming/solar calendar.

Tlacaxipehualiztli, (also known as Cohuailhuitl)

Tlacaxipehualiztli is the second month of the Aztec year and corresponds with the dates of March 4th- March 23rd in our calendar. Translated from the Nahuatl Tlacaxipehualiztli means flaying of men.
The god who was honored during this month was Xipe Totec, the god of spring whose name means “Our lord the flayed one.”

The ceremonies held in honor of Xipe Totec during this time were gladiatorial sacrifice of prisoners of war taken in battle. The gladiator was a warrior who was left handed and tied to a stone by a tither. He was given weapons with only feathered tips to fight with against two Eagle and two Jaguar warriors. If defeated by them he was killed by another right handed warrior. There were also agricultural dances performed by dancers.

The priests impersonated Xipe by wearing the flayed skin of sacrificial victims. They performed dances dressed in these skins. While doing these dances over a period of days they used the thigh bone of the leg to bless those who were there by tapping them with the bone. As the skin dried around the priest’s body it shrank and became tighter. As it turned to a yellowish color it stank so badly no one would come near for a blessing.

Image scanned from our own copy of Los Calendarios Mexianos by Mariano Fernández de Echeverría y Veytia, Museo Nacional de México facsimile edition, Mexico City, 1907.

This article was uploaded to the Mexicolore website on Aug 21st 2013

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Here's what others have said:

Mexicolore replies: This festival was BIG, involving serious amounts of sacrifices to the gods. Captives were made to dance as they fought against élite Mexica warriors. Book 2 of the Florentine Codex includes this description: the warriors (each captive accompanied by his captor, side by side) ‘came forth fighting... they came dancing; they each went turning about. They each went as if stretched on the ground; they each went on the ground; they each went stretched flat; they went looking from side to side; they each went leaping upwards; they each went fighting.’
Later in the festival ‘when they had finished with the striped ones [sacrifices], then they danced, they went in procession about the round stone of gladiatorial sacrifice. All the impersonators [of deities]... took with them the head of a captive, of a striped one; with them they danced. It was said “They dance with the severed heads”.’ Late on the third day, ‘the offering priests... adorned themselves, they danced in quite mixed things, quite various arrays: butterfly nets, fish banners, clusters of ears of maize, coyote heads made of a paste of amaranth seeds... They formed two rows. They went facing each other. Very slow was the dancing; very much in harmony went the dancing... Great solemnity went the dancing.
’And when night fell... then began the singing and dancing [with interlocked hands]...’
Clearly dancing was a key part of this festival!