Mixcoatl

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Mixcoatl
God of hunting, war and storms
Personification of the Milky Way[1]
Mixcoatl.svg
Mixcoatl as depicted in the Codex Borgia
Other namesItzac-Mixcoatl, Camaxtli, Camaxtle, Xipe-Totec, Amimitl
AbodeIlhuicatl-Nanatzcayan (Eighth Heaven)
GenderMale
RegionMesoamerica
Ethnic groupAztec, Tlaxcaltec (Nahoa)
FestivalsQuecholli
Personal information
Parents• Created by Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl (Codex Zumarraga)[4]
• Tonacatecuhtli and Tonacacihuatl (as Camaxtle)
SiblingsNone
ConsortChimalma (Codex Chimalpopoca)[2]
Coatlicue (Codex Florentine)[2]
Ilancueye (Codex Mendieta)
Children• With Chimalma: Quetzalcoatl (Codex Chimalpopoca)[2]
• With Coatlicue: Huitzilopochtli, Coyolxauhqui, Centzon Huitznahuac (Codex Florentine)[2]
• With Ilancueye: the giants Xelhua, Tenoch, Ulmecatl, Xicalancatl, Mixtecatl, Otomitl (Codex Mendieta)[1]
• With Tlalcihuatl or Coatlicue: Centzon Mimixcoa (Codex Ramirez)[3]

Mixcoatl (Nahuatl languages: Mixcōhuātl, [miʃˈkoːwaːt͡ɬ] from mixtli [ˈmiʃt͡ɬi] "cloud" and cōātl [ˈkoːaːt͡ɬ] "serpent"), or Camaztle [kaˈmaʃt͡ɬe] from camaz "deer sandal" and atle "without",[5] or Camaxtli, was the god of the hunt and identified with the Milky Way, the stars, and the heavens in several Mesoamerican cultures. He was the patron deity of the Otomi, the Chichimecs, and several groups that claimed descent from the Chichimecs. While Mixcoatl was part of the Aztec pantheon, his role was less important than Huitzilopochtli, who was their central deity. Under the name of Camaxtli, Mixcoatl was worshipped as the central deity of Huejotzingo and Tlaxcala.[6]

Amhimitl is Mixcoatls harpoon (or dart) just like Xiuhcoatl is Huitzilopochtli's weapon.

Representation[edit]

Mixcoatl is represented with a black mask over his eyes and distinctive red and white “candy-cane stripes” painted on his body. These features are shared with Tlahuizcalpanteuctli, the Lord of the Dawn, god of the morning star, as well as Itzpapalotl, goddess of infant mortality who was sometimes said to be his mother. Unlike Tlahuizcalpanteuctli, Mixcoatl can usually be distinguished by his hunting gear, which included a bow and arrows, and a net or basket for carrying dead game.

Mythology[edit]

Mixcoatl was one of four children of Tonacatecutli, meaning "Lord of Sustenance," an aged creator god, and Cihuacoatl, a fertility goddess and the patroness of midwives. Sometimes Mixcoatl was worshipped as the "Red" aspect of the god Tezcatlipoca, the "Smoking Mirror," who was the god of sorcerers, rulers, and warriors. In one story, Tezcatlipoca transformed himself into Mixcoatl and invented the fire drill by revolving the heavens around their axes, bringing fire to humanity. Along with this cosmic fire drill, Mixcoatl was the first to strike fire with flint. These events made Mixcoatl a god of the Milky Way, along with war, and the hunt.

Mixcoatl was the father of 400 sons, collectively known as the Centzon Huitznahua, who ended up having their hearts eaten by Huitzilopochtli. The Centzon Huitznahua met their demise when they, and their sister Coyolxauhqui, after finding their mother Coatlicue pregnant, conspired to kill her. However, as they attacked she gave birth to a fully formed and armed Huitzilopochtli, who proceeded to kill his half-siblings. Mixcoatl was also related to 400 more gods, the Centzonmimixcoa, whom, together with his 3 brothers (all different from the ones named above) and their sister, he slew by ambush. Mixcoatl was also thought of as being the father of another important deity, Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent.

Quetzalcoatl's father Mixcoatl was murdered; Quetzalcoatl was informed by Cozcaquauhtli that "the uncles who had killed his father were Apanecatl, Zolton, and Cuilton."[7]

Replica of statue of Mixcoac as displayed in Metro Bellas Artes in Mexico City. The accompanying plaque translates as" SCULPTURE OF MIXCOAC - Mexica-Huasteca culture - Late Post-Classic Period - Description: sculpture with the image of Mixcoatl, patron of the hunt and one of the most important gods of war in ancient Mexico. He is considered to be the father of Quetzalcoatl. Original is in the Castle of Teayo, Veracruz"

Xipetotec, Camaxtle, Mixcoatl and Tlatlauhaqui-Tezcatlipoca[edit]

Originally the name of the first son of the creative couple is Tlatlauhca or Tlatlauhaqui-Tezcatlipoca, "Smoking red mirror." Of obscure origin, this god is honored by the Tlaxcalans and Huejocinas with the name of Camaxtli (Camaxtle), and apparently a deity of Zapotlan, Xalisco, is widely known in almost all of Mesoamerica with the name of Xipetotec, 'Our Lord Flayed'. His body is dyed yellow on one side and lined on the other, his face is carved, superficially divided into two parts by a narrow strip that runs from the forehead to the jawbone. His head wears a kind of hood of different colors with tassels that hang down his back. The Tlaxcala myth that refers to Camaxtle, a god identified as Xipe-Totec himself[8]

Camaxtle begins a war against the Shires and defeats them. The war lasts until 1 acatl, when Camaxtle is defeated, after this failure he meets one of the women created by Yayauhqui-Tezcatlipoca, called Chimalma, and with her he conceives five children, one of whom is Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl, who governs Tula (Another myth says that it is Yayauhqui-Tezcatlipoca, the enemy who in his invocation of Mixcoatl impregnates Chimalma)[8]

It's difficult to discern if Camaxtle is the same Tlatlauhqui Tezcatlipoca-Xipetotec or Yayauhqui Tezcatlipoca who changes his name to Mixcoatl; or Huitzilopochtli himself as identified by some informants and authors. The truth is that he is related to fire and hunting.[8] After the destruction of the earth by water, came chaos. Everything was desolation. Humanity had died and the heavens were over the earth. When the gods saw that the heavens had fallen, they resolved to reach the center of the earth, opening four subterranean paths for this, and to enter these paths to lift them up. To reward such a great action, Tonacacihuatl and Tonacatecuhtli made their children the lords of the heavens and the stars, and the path that Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl traveled was marked by the Milky Way. And this great nebula was also called Mixcoatl or Iztac-Mixcoatl, 'white cloud snake'[9]

Jerónimo de Mendieta determines that Iztac-Mixcoatl is the personification of the Milky Way, the inhabitant of Chicomoztoc that the Nahoas call ‘White Cloud Serpent’, since such is the shape of the great nebula in the sky. And Ilancueye is nothing more than the personification of the Earth.

Centzon Mimixcoa[edit]

In Ce Tecpatl, after the Creation of the Fifth Sun in Teotihuacan, Camaxtle, one of the four gods, ascended to the Eighth Heaven and created four men and one woman to feed the Sun; But barely formed, they fell into the water, they returned to the sky and there was no war, frustrated by this attempt, Camaxtle struck a cane on a rock, and at the blow 400 Chichimecs Mimixcoa[10] sprouted that populated the earth before the Aztecs. Camaxtle was able to do penance on the rock, drawing blood with maguey spikes, tongue and ears, and prayed to the gods that the four men and one woman created in the eighth heaven would come down to kill the barbarians to feed to the Sun.[11]

The four men and one woman created in the Eighth Heaven are the five Mimixcoa who would later sacrifice the 400 Mimixcoa, called Chichimecs or Otomies.[11]

In Ce Tecpatl, the Mimixcoa were born, their mother Iztac-Chalchiuhtlicue[12] went into a cave (Chicomoztoc or Tlalocan) and gave birth to five other Mimixcoa called Cuauhtlicoauh; Mixcoatl; Cuitlachcihuatl; Tlotepe; and Apantecuhtli. After spending four days in the water, the five Mimixcoa were suckled by Mecitli, who by the text identifies with the Earth Goddess (Tlaltecuhtli or Coatlicue). And immediately the Sun ordered the 400 Mimixcoa; The Sun Tonatiuh gives them arrows and says: "Here it is with what they will serve me to drink, with what they will feed, and a shield. And the precious arrows cast in quetzal t-shirt feathers; in heron rowing feathers; in t-shirt feathers of zacuam; in tlauhquechol t-shirt feathers; and in xiuhtototl t-shirt feathers; and also she, the Earth (Tlaltecuhtli or Coatlicue), who is your mother", but the Centzon Mimixcoa did not do their duty, instead they get drunk on tzihuactli wine - a small maguey and have sex with women. And immediately, the Sun also orders the five who were born last, immediately gives them the maguey arrow and gives them the divine shield. The five Mimixcoa climb a mesquite tree where the 400 discover them, they exclaim: "Who are these who are such as us?", then the five hide in specific places: Cuauhtlicoauh takes shelter in a tree; Mixcoatl on the ground; Tlotepe in the mount; Apantecuhtli in the water; and Cuitlachcihuatl in a court of the Tlachtli ball court. Finally, the Centzon Mimixcoa are defeated by his five younger brothers, who served the Sun Tonatiuh, gave him a drink.[11]

Anciently in the North there was a place of origins called Chicomoztoc, the seven caves. Within these caverns lived the Four Hundred Mimixcoa, a turbulent group of titans born of the Earth Goddess (Tlaltecuhtli or Coatlicue). Their father, the Sun (Tonatiuh) taught them the use of weapons so they might hunt and supply their divine parents with nourishment. But the Mimixcoa in their arrogance defied their parents, lived wantonly, and drank a wine madre from cactus. In response to the situation, which became ever more unbearable, the Earth Mother bore five additional Mimixcoa who were destined to avenge their father provided these lateborn children with sharper and more deadly. The leader of the group is a synoptic figure and includes them all, hence his name Mixcoatl. In the myth Tezcatlipoca is said to have changed himself into Mixcoatl in the second year after the great flood at the end of the fourth aeon, when the sky crashed down up the earth. Acting then as Mixcoatl the divine one proceeded to create fire by drilling with a stick into a fireboard. This was the first light, for the Fifth Sun had not yet been created. The myth is evidently at pains to point out a fundamental relationship between the supreme god Tezcatlipoca and Mixcoatl. Camaxtle-Mixcoatl in fact is a perfect replica of that god of the dawn in both his trappings as depicted in the codices and in his mythology, which makes him the father of Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl.[13]

— Burr Cartwright Brundage

Ritual associations[edit]

Quecholli, the 14th veintena, the 20-day Aztec month (November 19th Julian calendar,[14] November 29th Gregorian calendar), was dedicated to Mixcoatl. The celebration for this month consisted of hunting and feasting in the countryside. The hunters would take the form of Mixcoatl by dressing like him, kindling a new fire to roast the hunted game. Along with these practices, a man and woman would be sacrificed to Mixcoatl at his temple.

Modern associations and references[edit]

In modern scientific nomenclature, the names Mixcoatl–Camaxtli have been assigned to:

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Cecilio A. Robelo (1905). Diccionario de Mitología Nahoa (in Spanish). Editorial Porrúa. pp. 121, 122, 123. ISBN 970-07-3149-9.
  2. ^ a b c d Cecilio A. Robelo (1905). Diccionario de Mitología Nahoa (in Spanish). Editorial Porrúa. pp. 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200, 201, 202. ISBN 970-07-3149-9.
  3. ^ Guilhem Olivier (2015). Cacería, Sacrificio y Poder en Mesoamérica: Tras las Huellas de Mixcóatl, 'Serpiente de Nube' (in Spanish). Fondo de Cultura Económica. ISBN 978-607-16-3216-6.
  4. ^ Otilia Meza (1981). El Mundo Mágico de los Dioses del Anáhuac (in Spanish). Editorial Universo. p. 131. ISBN 968-35-0093-5.
  5. ^ Papeles de Nueva España: Geografía y estadística, 1580-1582 Volumes 5-6 By Francisco del Paso y Troncoso p 29
  6. ^ Miller and Taube (1993, p.115).
  7. ^ Manuscript of 1558, section VIII, in:- Miguel León-Portilla & Earl Shorris : In the Language of Kings. Norton & Co., 2001. p. 62
  8. ^ a b c Adela Fernández (1992). Los Dioses Prehispánicos de México (in Spanish). Editorial Panorama. pp. 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66. ISBN 968-38-0306-7.
  9. ^ Otilia Meza (1981). El Mundo Mágico de los Dioses del Anáhuac (in Spanish). Editorial Universo. p. 131. ISBN 968-35-0093-5.
  10. ^ Historia de los Mexicanos por sus pinturas (The History of the Mexicans as Told by Their Paintings; 1941; 216)
  11. ^ a b c Guilhem Olivier (2015). Cacería, Sacrificio y Poder en Mesoamérica: Tras las Huellas de Mixcoatl, 'Serpiente de Nube' (in Spanish). Fondo de Cultura Económica. ISBN 978-607-16-3216-6.
  12. ^ Leyenda de los Soles (Legend of the Suns; 1945; 122)
  13. ^ Burr Cartwright Brundage (1912). The Fifth Sun, Aztec Gods, Aztec World. Library of Congress. ISBN 0-292-72427-6.
  14. ^ The Mexica Calendar and the Cronography, Rafael Tena. INAH-Conaculta. p104
  15. ^ a b Jadin, RC; Smith, EN; Campbell, JA (2011). "Unraveling a tangle of Mexican serpents: a systematic revision of highland pitvipers". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 163 (3): 951–952. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2011.00748.x.

References[edit]