Mesoamerica is a historical region and cultural area in North America. It extends from central Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and northern Costa Rica, within this region pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas. In the 16th century, European diseases like smallpox and measles caused the deaths of upwards of 90% of the indigenous people, it is one of five areas in the world where ancient civilization arose independently, the second in the Americas along with Norte Chico in present-day Peru, in the northern coastal region. As a cultural area, Mesoamerica is defined by a mosaic of cultural traits developed and shared by its indigenous cultures. Beginning as early as 7000 BCE, the domestication of cacao, beans, avocado, vanilla and chili, as well as the turkey and dog, caused a transition from paleo-Indian hunter-gatherer tribal grouping to the organization of sedentary agricultural villages. In the subsequent Formative period and cultural traits such as a complex mythological and religious tradition, a vigesimal numeric system, a complex calendric system, a tradition of ball playing, a distinct architectural style, were diffused through the area.
In this period, villages began to become stratified and develop into chiefdoms with the development of large ceremonial centers, interconnected by a network of trade routes for the exchange of luxury goods, such as obsidian, cacao, Spondylus shells and ceramics. While Mesoamerican civilization did know of the wheel and basic metallurgy, neither of these technologies became culturally important. Among the earliest complex civilizations was the Olmec culture, which inhabited the Gulf Coast of Mexico and extended inland and southwards across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Frequent contact and cultural interchange between the early Olmec and other cultures in Chiapas and Oaxaca laid the basis for the Mesoamerican cultural area. All this was facilitated by considerable regional communications in ancient Mesoamerica along the Pacific coast; this formative period saw the spread of distinct religious and symbolic traditions, as well as artistic and architectural complexes. In the subsequent Preclassic period, complex urban polities began to develop among the Maya, with the rise of centers such as El Mirador and Tikal, the Zapotec at Monte Albán.
During this period, the first true Mesoamerican writing systems were developed in the Epi-Olmec and the Zapotec cultures, the Mesoamerican writing tradition reached its height in the Classic Maya hieroglyphic script. Mesoamerica is one of only three regions of the world where writing is known to have independently developed. In Central Mexico, the height of the Classic period saw the ascendancy of the city of Teotihuacan, which formed a military and commercial empire whose political influence stretched south into the Maya area and northward. Upon the collapse of Teotihuacán around 600 AD, competition between several important political centers in central Mexico, such as Xochicalco and Cholula, ensued. At this time during the Epi-Classic period, the Nahua peoples began moving south into Mesoamerica from the North, became politically and culturally dominant in central Mexico, as they displaced speakers of Oto-Manguean languages. During the early post-Classic period, Central Mexico was dominated by the Toltec culture, Oaxaca by the Mixtec, the lowland Maya area had important centers at Chichén Itzá and Mayapán.
Towards the end of the post-Classic period, the Aztecs of Central Mexico built a tributary empire covering most of central Mesoamerica. The distinct Mesoamerican cultural tradition ended with the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. Over the next centuries, Mesoamerican indigenous cultures were subjected to Spanish colonial rule. Aspects of the Mesoamerican cultural heritage still survive among the indigenous peoples who inhabit Mesoamerica, many of whom continue to speak their ancestral languages, maintain many practices harking back to their Mesoamerican roots; the term Mesoamerica means "middle America" in Greek. Middle America refers to a larger area in the Americas, but it has previously been used more narrowly to refer to Mesoamerica. An example is the title of the 16 volumes of The Handbook of Middle American Indians. "Mesoamerica" is broadly defined as the area, home to the Mesoamerican civilization, which comprises a group of peoples with close cultural and historical ties. The exact geographic extent of Mesoamerica has varied through time, as the civilization extended North and South from its heartland in southern Mexico.
The term was first used by the German ethnologist Paul Kirchhoff, who noted that similarities existed among the various pre-Columbian cultures within the region that included southern Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, western Honduras, the Pacific lowlands of Nicaragua and northwestern Costa Rica. In the tradition of cultural history, the prevalent archaeological theory of the early to middle 20th century, Kirchhoff defined this zone as a cultural area based on a suite of interrelated cultural similarities brought about by millennia of inter- and intra-regional interaction. Mesoamerica is recognized as a near-prototypical cultural area, the term is now integrated in the standard terminology of pre-Columbian anthropological studies. Conversely, the sister terms Aridoamerica and Oasisamerica, which refer to northern Mexico and the western United States have not entered into widespread usage; some of the significant cultural traits defining the Mesoamerican cultural tradition are: sedentism based on maize agricultu
Nopal is a common name in Spanish for Opuntia cacti, as well as for its pads. There are one hundred and fourteen known species endemic to Mexico, where the plant is a common ingredient in numerous Mexican cuisine dishes; the nopal pads can be eaten raw or cooked, used in marmalades, soups and salads, as well as being used for traditional medicine or as fodder for animals. Farmed nopales are most of the species Opuntia ficus-indica or Opuntia matudae although the pads of all Opuntia species are edible; the other part of the nopal cactus, edible is the fruit called the tuna in Spanish, the "prickly pear" in English. Nopales are sold fresh in Mexico, cleaned of spines, sliced to the customer's desire on the spot, they can be found canned or bottled, less dried for export. Cut into slices or diced into cubes, nopales have a light tart flavor, like green beans, a crisp, mucilaginous texture. In most recipes, the mucilaginous liquid they contain is included in the cooking, they are at their most tender and juicy in the spring.
Nopales are most used in Mexican cuisine in dishes such as huevos con nopales "eggs with nopal", carne con nopales "meat with nopal", tacos de nopales, in salads with tomato and queso panela, or on their own as a side vegetable. Nopales have grown to be an important ingredient in New Mexican cuisine and in Tejano culture of Texas. Per US cup serving, nopal fruit is an excellent source of the dietary mineral manganese and a good source of vitamin C, magnesium and calcium, with nutrient content improving as the plant matures, its calcium may not be biologically available because it is present as calcium oxalate, a non-absorbable complex in the small intestine. The nopal cactus grows extensively throughout Mexico, being abundant in the central Mexican arid and semi arid regions. In Mexico there are over three million hectares of land used to cultivate nopal. There are three typical ways to cultivate nopal cacti — commercial plantations, family farms and gardens, or in the wild; the main use for cultivated nopal is for feed for livestock with one hundred and fifty thousand hectares designated to that purpose.
After that 57,000 ha are used to produce prickly pear fruit, 10,500 ha for the pads production, 100 ha to cochineal production. In 1996 there were 20,300 prickly pear farmers, as well as around 8000 general nopal farmers, with all of the people involved in the processing industries and in cochineal production, employing a significant number of the Mexican population. Nopal is grown in eighteen of the Mexican states with 74% in the Distrito Federal, with an annual yield of 58,000 tons of both the tuna and the pads; the farming of nopal provides many subsistence communities with employment, food and allows them to remain on their land. Detection of the cactus-eating moth Cactoblastis cactorum in Mexico in 2006 caused anxiety among the country's phytosanitary authorities, as this insect can be devastating for the cactus industry. On the other hand, the same insect was used in Australia in 1925 to control the cactus population, as it became an invasive species after its introduction. Nopaltilla
Coatlicue known as Teteoh innan, is the Aztec goddess who gave birth to the moon and Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war. The goddesses Tocih “our grandmother”, Cihuacoatl “snake woman”, the patron of women who die in childbirth, were seen as aspects of Coatlicue; the goddess' Classical Nahuatl name can be rendered both Cōātlīcue and Cōātl īcue, from cōātl “snake” and īcue “her skirt” meaning “ the skirt of snakes”. The name Tēteoh īnnān, from tēteoh, plural of teōtl “god”, + īnnān “their mother”, refers directly to her maternal role as a primordial earth goddess. Coatlicue is represented as a woman wearing a skirt of writhing snakes and a necklace made of human hearts and skulls, her feet and hands are adorned with claws and her breasts are depicted as hanging flaccid from pregnancy. Her face is formed by two facing serpents, referring to the myth that she was sacrificed during the beginning of the present creation. Most Aztec artistic representations of Coatlicue emphasize her deadly side, because Earth, as well as loving mother, is the insatiable monster that consumes everything that lives.
She represents the devouring mother, in whom both the grave exist. According to Aztec legend, Coatlicue was once magically impregnated by a ball of feathers that fell on her while she was sweeping a temple, subsequently gave birth to the god Huitzilopochtli, her daughter Coyolxauhqui rallied Coatlicue's four hundred other children together and goaded them into attacking and decapitating their mother. The instant she was killed, the god Huitzilopochtli emerged from her womb grown and armed for battle, he killed many of his brothers and sisters, including Coyolxauhqui, whose head he cut off and threw into the sky to become the moon. In one variation on this legend, Huitzilopochtli himself is the child conceived in the ball-of-feathers incident and is born just in time to save his mother from harm. Cecelia Klein argues that the famous Coatlicue statue in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico, several other complete and fragmentary versions, may represent a personified snake skirt; the reference is to one version of the creation of the present Sun.
The myth relates that the present Sun began after the gods gathered at Teotihuacan and sacrificed themselves. The best-known version states that Tezzictecatl and Nanahuatzin immolated themselves, becoming the moon and the sun. However, other versions add a group of women to those who sacrificed themselves, including Coatlicue. Afterwards the Aztecs were said to have worshipped the skirts of these women, which came back to life. Coatlicue thus has creative aspects, which may balance the skulls, hearts and claws that connect her to the earth deity Tlaltecuhtli; the earth both regenerates life. Aztec mythology in popular culture Vistas Project at Smith College. Edited by Dana Liebsohn and Barbara Mundy. Boone, Elizabeth H. "The Coatlicues at the Templo Mayor." Ancient Mesoamerica, 10: 189-206 Cambridge University Press. Carbonell, Ana Maria. "From Llorona to Gritona: Coatlicue in Feminist Tales by Viramontes and Cisneros." MELUS 24 Summer 1999:53-74 Cisneros, Sandra. "It occurs to me I am the creative/destructive goddess Coatlicue."
The Massachusetts Review 36:599. Winter 1995. De Leon, Ann. "Coatlicue or How to Write the Dismembered Body.""MLN Hispanic Notes Volume 125, Number 2: 259-286 March 2010. Dorsfuhrer, C. "Quetzalcoatl and Coatlicue in Mexican Mythology." Cuadernos Hispanoamericanos:6–28 November 1987. Fernández, Justino. Coatlicue. Estética del arte indígena antiguo. Centro de Estudios Filosoficos, U. N. A. M. Mexico, 1954. Franco, Jean. "The Return of Coatlicue: Mexican Nationalism and the Aztec Past." Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies 13 August 2004: 205 - 219. Granziera, Patrizia. "From Coatlicue to Guadalupe: The Image of the Great Mother in Mexico." Studies in World Christianity 10:250-273. 2005. León y Gama, Antonio de. Descripción histórica y cronológica de las dos piedras: que con ocasión del empedrado que se está formando en la plaza Principal de México, se hallaron en ella el año de 1790. Impr. de F. de Zúñiga y Ontiveros, 1792. An expanded edition, with descriptions of additional sculptures, edited by Carlos Maria Bustamante, published in 1832.
There have been a couple of facsimile editions, published in the 1990s. Library of Congress digital edition of Leon y Gama's 1792 work on the Calendar Stone López Luján, Leonardo. "La Coatlicue." Escultura Monumental Mexica:115-230. 2012. Pimentel, Luz A. "Ekphrasis and Cultural Discourse: Coatlicue in Descriptive and Analytic Texts. NEOHELICON 30:61-75. 2003. “Making Sense of the Pre-Columbian,” Vistas: Visual Culture in Spanish America, 1520-1820
In Aztec mythology, the Cihuateteo or “Divine Women,” were the malevolent spirits of women who died in childbirth. They were likened to the spirits of male warriors who died in violent conflict, because childbirth was conceptually equivalent to battle in Aztec culture. According to tradition, a woman in labor was said to capture the spirit of her newborn child similar to the way a warrior captures his opponent in battle; these spirits are associated with the west, the place where the sun sets each day. The Cihuateteo resided in a region in the west known as Cihuatlampa, the “place of women.” Each day, they guided the sun into the west from noon until sunset, are suggested to have borne it through the underworld until it rose again. They were aided by the spirits of male warriors, this practice of guiding the sun was seen as exclusive to these two groups of the deceased—it was an honor, not bestowed on any other individuals. On five specific days in the Aztec calendar, the cihuateteo descended to the earth: 1 Deer, 1 Rain, 1 Monkey, 1 House, 1 Eagle.
While on earth, they were considered to be demons of the night, haunted crossroads. Roadside shrines were erected to appease them, as they were believed to steal children, cause madness and seizures, induce men to adultery; the figure of a cihuateotl from the Metropolitan Museum of Art has been inscribed on top of her head with the name Ce Calli, “1 House,” while the figure from the British Museum is inscribed with the glyph “1 Monkey”—these indicate their respective days of descent. When an Aztec woman experienced childbirth, it was seen as a violent and laborious effort likened to the intensity of battle, it was believed that the child was sent down to the earth by the gods, the woman had to fight and struggle in order to bring it into the world. The newborn child was seen as a sufficient reward if she was successful and emerged victorious from her “fight” with the gods, but if she lost and proved unsuccessful she died and her soul underwent transformation into a cihuateotl. In the case of the death of the woman, special funerary practices were carried out, as the body of a woman who had died in childbirth was believed to possess special powers and magic following the departure of the soul from the body.
In these special practices, the body was guarded fiercely by an armed entourage that included the widowed husband, his friends, all the midwives, old women. This was deemed necessary due to the need to protect the woman's human remains from male warriors. Parts of the body believed to be potent relics for warriors were the left middle finger and the hair. According to Aztec belief, “these relics had magical power and, if placed on their shields, would make the warriors brave and valiant, give them strength, blind the eyes of their enemies.” Cihuateteo can be characterized as “fearsome figures with clenched, claw-like fists, bared teeth and gums and aggressive poses.” Sitting with their clawed feet tucked beneath their skirts, they seem at once in repose and ready to attack. In Aztec art, the postpartum female body is depicted with pendulous breasts and stomach folds. Within the Aztec artistic tradition, cihuateteo are depicted with taut stomachs, exposed breasts, prominent nipples; these are all features that serve to highlight their unrealized potential as mothers, as these women died before having the opportunity to bear and nurse their newborn child.
Oftentimes, cihuateteo are depicted with swirling, unkempt hair and skirts fastened with snake belts. Cihuateteo figures found at the site of El Zapotal carry staffs bearing heads as trophies, seem to be covered with flayed skins, which suggests deference or worship to a female vegetation deity; the serpent around the waist may be a reference to the serpentine goddess Cihuacoatl, not only associated with war and political power, but with fertility and midwifery. The unkempt hair is associated with darkness and the earth. Not only was Cihuatlampa a place of darkness, but most Aztec associations with the earth symbolize both childbirth and sacrifice, two of the defining traits of the cihuateteo themselves. La Llorona Soldaderas
A creation myth is a symbolic narrative of how the world began and how people first came to inhabit it. While in popular usage the term myth refers to false or fanciful stories, members of cultures ascribe varying degrees of truth to their creation myths. In the society in which it is told, a creation myth is regarded as conveying profound truths, metaphorically and sometimes in a historical or literal sense, they are although not always, considered cosmogonical myths—that is, they describe the ordering of the cosmos from a state of chaos or amorphousness. Creation myths share a number of features, they are considered sacred accounts and can be found in nearly all known religious traditions. They are all stories with a plot and characters who are either deities, human-like figures, or animals, who speak and transform easily, they are set in a dim and nonspecific past that historian of religion Mircea Eliade termed in illo tempore. Creation myths address questions meaningful to the society that shares them, revealing their central worldview and the framework for the self-identity of the culture and individual in a universal context.
Creation myths develop in oral traditions and therefore have multiple versions. Creation myth definitions from modern references: A "symbolic narrative of the beginning of the world as understood in a particular tradition and community. Creation myths are of central importance for the valuation of the world, for the orientation of humans in the universe, for the basic patterns of life and culture." "Creation myths tell us. All cultures have creation myths; as cultures, we identify ourselves through the collective dreams we call creation myths, or cosmogonies. … Creation myths explain in metaphorical terms our sense of who we are in the context of the world, in so doing they reveal our real priorities, as well as our real prejudices. Our images of creation say a great deal about who we are." A "philosophical and theological elaboration of the primal myth of creation within a religious community. The term myth here refers to the imaginative expression in narrative form of what is experienced or apprehended as basic reality … The term creation refers to the beginning of things, whether by the will and act of a transcendent being, by emanation from some ultimate source, or in any other way."Religion professor Mircea Eliade defined the word myth in terms of creation: Myth narrates a sacred history.
In other words, myth tells how, through the deeds of Supernatural Beings, a reality came into existence, be it the whole of reality, the Cosmos, or only a fragment of reality – an island, a species of plant, a particular kind of human behavior, an institution. All creation myths are in one sense etiological because they attempt to explain how the world was formed and where humanity came from. Myths attempt to sometimes teach a lesson. Ethnologists and anthropologists who study these myths say that in the modern context theologians try to discern humanity's meaning from revealed truths and scientists investigate cosmology with the tools of empiricism and rationality, but creation myths define human reality in different terms. In the past historians of religion and other students of myth thought of them as forms of primitive or early-stage science or religion and analyzed them in a literal or logical sense. Today, they are seen as symbolic narratives which must be understood in terms of their own cultural context.
Charles Long writes, "The beings referred to in the myth – gods, plants – are forms of power grasped existentially. The myths should not be understood as attempts to work out a rational explanation of deity."While creation myths are not literal explications they do serve to define an orientation of humanity in the world in terms of a birth story. They are the basis of a worldview that reaffirms and guides how people relate to the natural world, to any assumed spiritual world, to each other; the creation myth acts as a cornerstone for distinguishing primary reality from relative reality, the origin and nature of being from non-being. In this sense they serve as a philosophy of life but one expressed and conveyed through symbol rather than systematic reason, and in this sense they go beyond etiological myths which mean to explain specific features in religious rites, natural phenomena or cultural life. Creation myths help to orient human beings in the world, giving them a sense of their place in the world and the regard that they must have for humans and nature.
Historian David Christian has summarised issues common to multiple creation myths: Each beginning seems to presuppose an earlier beginning.... Instead of meeting a single starting point, we encounter an infinity of them, each of which poses the same problem.... There are no satisfactory solutions to this dilemma. What we have to find is not a solution but some way of dealing with the mystery.... And we have to do so using words; the words we reach from God to gravity, are inadequate to the task. So we have to use language symbolically. Mythologists have applied various schemes to classify creation myths found throughout human cultures. Eliade and his colleague Charles Long developed a classification based on some common motifs that reappear in stories the world over; the classification identifies five basic types: Creati
Nahuatl, known as Aztec, is a language or group of languages of the Uto-Aztecan language family. Varieties of Nahuatl are spoken by about 1.7 million Nahua peoples, most of whom live in central Mexico. Nahuatl has been spoken in central Mexico since at least the seventh century CE, it was the language of the Aztecs, who dominated what is now central Mexico during the Late Postclassic period of Mesoamerican history. During the centuries preceding the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, the Aztecs had expanded to incorporate a large part of central Mexico, their influence caused the variety of Nahuatl spoken by the residents of Tenochtitlan to become a prestige language in Mesoamerica. At the conquest, with the introduction of the Latin alphabet, Nahuatl became a literary language, many chronicles, works of poetry, administrative documents and codices were written in it during the 16th and 17th centuries; this early literary language based on the Tenochtitlan variety has been labeled Classical Nahuatl, is among the most studied and best-documented languages of the Americas.
Today, Nahuan languages are spoken in scattered communities in rural areas throughout central Mexico and along the coastline. There are considerable differences among varieties, some are not mutually intelligible. Huasteca Nahuatl, with over one million speakers, is the most-spoken variety. All varieties have been subject to varying degrees of influence from Spanish. No modern Nahuan languages are identical to Classical Nahuatl, but those spoken in and around the Valley of Mexico are more related to it than those on the periphery. Under Mexico's General Law of Linguistic Rights of the Indigenous Peoples promulgated in 2003, Nahuatl and the other 63 indigenous languages of Mexico are recognized as lenguas nacionales in the regions where they are spoken, enjoying the same status as Spanish within their regions. Nahuan languages exhibit a complex morphology characterized by polysynthesis and agglutination. Through a long period of coexistence with the other indigenous Mesoamerican languages, they have absorbed many influences, coming to form part of the Mesoamerican language area.
Many words from Nahuatl have been borrowed into Spanish and, from there, were diffused into hundreds of other languages. Most of these loanwords denote things indigenous to central Mexico which the Spanish heard mentioned for the first time by their Nahuatl names. English words of Nahuatl origin include "avocado", "chayote", "chili", "chocolate", "atlatl", "coyote", "peyote", "axolotl" and "tomato"; as a language label, the term "Nahuatl" encompasses a group of related languages or divergent dialects within the Nahuan branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family. The Mexican Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas recognizes 30 individual varieties within the "language group" labeled Nahuatl; the Ethnologue recognizes 28 varieties with separate ISO codes. Sometimes the label is used to include the Pipil language of El Salvador. Regardless of whether "Nahuatl" is considered to label a dialect continuum or a group of separate languages, the varieties form a single branch within the Uto-Aztecan family, descended from a single Proto-Nahuan language.
Within Mexico, the question of whether to consider individual varieties to be languages or dialects of a single language is political. This article focuses on describing the general history of the group and on giving an overview of the diversity it encompasses. For details on individual varieties or subgroups, see the individual articles. In the past, the branch of Uto-Aztecan to which Nahuatl belongs has been called "Aztecan". From the 1990s onward, the alternative designation "Nahuan" has been used as a replacement in Spanish-language publications; the Nahuan branch of Uto-Aztecan is accepted as having two divisions: "General Aztec" and Pochutec. General Aztec encompasses the Pipil languages. Pochutec is a scantily attested language, which became extinct in the 20th century, which Campbell and Langacker classify as being outside of general Aztec. Other researchers have argued that Pochutec should be considered a divergent variant of the western periphery."Nahuatl" denotes at least Classical Nahuatl together with related modern languages spoken in Mexico.
The inclusion of Pipil into the group is debated. Lyle Campbell classified Pipil as separate from the Nahuatl branch within general Aztecan, whereas dialectologists like Una Canger, Karen Dakin, Yolanda Lastra and Terrence Kaufman have preferred to include Pipil within the General Aztecan branch, citing close historical ties with the eastern peripheral dialects of General Aztec. Current subclassification of Nahuatl rests on research by Canger and Lastra de Suárez. Canger introduced the scheme of a Central grouping and two Peripheral groups, Lastra confirmed this notion, differing in some details. Canger & Dakin demonstrated a basic split between Eastern and Western branches of Nahuan, considered to reflect the oldest division of the proto-Nahuan speech community. Canger considered the central dialect area to be an innovative subarea within the Western branch, but in 2011, she suggested that it arose as an urban koiné language with features from both Western and Eastern dialect areas. Canger tentatively included dialects of La Huasteca in the Central group, while Lastra de Suárez places them in the Eastern Periphery, followed by Kaufman.
The terminology used to describe varieties of spoken Nahuatl is inconsistently applied. Many terms are used with multiple denotations, or a single dialect grou
Mictlāntēcutli or Mictlantecuhtli, in Aztec mythology, was a god of the dead and the king of Mictlan, the lowest and northernmost section of the underworld. He was one of the principal gods of the Aztecs and was the most prominent of several gods and goddesses of death and the underworld; the worship of Mictlantecuhtli sometimes involved ritual cannibalism, with human flesh being consumed in and around the temple. Two life-size clay statues of Mictlantecuhtli were found marking the entrances to the House of Eagles to the north of the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan. Mictlantecuhtli was 6 feet tall and was depicted as a blood-spattered skeleton or a person wearing a toothy skull. Although his head was a skull, his eye sockets did contain eyeballs, his headdress was shown decorated with owl feathers and paper banners and he wore a necklace of human eyeballs, while his earspools were made from human bones. He was not the only Aztec god to be depicted in this fashion, as numerous other deities had skulls for heads or else wore clothing or decorations that incorporated bones and skulls.
In the Aztec world, skeletal imagery was a symbol of fertility and abundance, alluding to the close symbolic links between life and death. He was depicted wearing sandals as a symbol of his high rank as Lord of Mictlan, his arms were depicted raised in an aggressive gesture, showing that he was ready to tear apart the dead as they entered his presence. In the Aztec codices Mictlantecuhtli is depicted with his skeletal jaw open to receive the stars that descend into him during the daytime, his wife was Mictecacihuatl, together they were said to dwell in a windowless house in Mictlan. Mictlantecuhtli was associated with spiders, bats, the eleventh hour and the northern compass direction, known as Mictlampa, the region of death, he was one of only a few deities held to govern over all three types of souls identified by the Aztecs, who distinguished between the souls of people who died normal deaths, heroic deaths, or non-heroic deaths. Mictlantecuhtli and his wife were the opposites and complements of Ometecuhtli and Omecihuatl, the givers of life.
Mictlanteculhtli was the god of the day sign Itzcuintli, one of the 20 such signs recognised in the Aztec calendar, was regarded as supplying the souls of those who were born on that day. He was seen as the source of souls for those born on the sixth day of the 13-day week and was the fifth of the nine Night Gods of the Aztecs, he was the secondary Week God for the tenth week of the twenty-week cycle of the calendar, joining the sun god Tonatiuh to symbolise the dichotomy of light and darkness. In the Colonial Codex Vaticanus 3738, Mictlantecuhtli is labelled in Spanish as "the lord of the underworld, the same as Lucifer". In Aztec mythology, after Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca created the world, they put their creation in order and placed Mictlantecuhtli and his wife, Mictecacihuatl, in the underworld. According to Aztec legend, the twin gods Quetzalcoatl and Xolotl were sent by the other gods to steal the bones of the previous generation of gods from Mictlantecuhtli; the god of the underworld sought to block Quetzalcoatl's escape with the bones and, although he failed, he forced Quetzalcoatl to drop the bones, which were scattered and broken by the fall.
The shattered bones were collected by Quetzalcoatl and carried back to the land of the living, where the gods transformed them into the various races of mortals. When a person died, they were interred with grave goods, which they carried with them on the long and dangerous journey to the underworld. Upon arrival in Mictlan these goods were offered to his wife. In another myth, the sagacious god of death agrees to give the bones to Quetzalcóatl if he can finish what would appear to be a simple test; the god informs Quetzalcóatl that he has to travel through his kingdom four times, while a shell sounds out like a trumpet. However, in place of giving Quetzalcóatl the shell from Mictlantecuhtl he gives him a normal shell, without holes in it. In order to not be mocked, Quetzalcóatl beckons the worms to come out and perforate the shell, thus creating holes, he calls the bees to enter the shell and to make it sound out like a trumpet.. Whilst listening to the roar of the trumpet, Mictlantecuhtl, at first, decides to allow Quetzalcóatl to take all of the bones from the last creation, but quickly changes his mind.
Quetzalcóatl is more astute than Mictlantecuhtl and his minions and escapes with the bones. Mictlantecuhtli, now angry, orders his followers to create a deep pit. While Quetzalcóatl is running away with the bones he is startled by a quail, which causes him to fall into the pit, he falls into the pit and dies, is subsequently tormented by the animal, the bones he is carrying are scattered. The quail begins to gnaw on the bones. Despite the fall Quetzalcóatl is revived and gathers all of the broken bones, it is for this reason. Once he has escaped from the underworld, Quetzalcóatl carries the precious cargo to Tamoanchan, a place of miraculous origin. Mictlantecuhtli appears in the 2018 animated web series Constantine: City of Demons The Mezmer skin in the popular video game, appears to be based on Mictlantecuhtli. Maya death gods Santa Muerte Tzitzimitl Leeming, David Adams; the Oxford companion