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Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ xxv ] One of the most important gods in M esoamerican religions was Huitzilopochtli (Humming-bird of the South), the tribal god of the wandering Mexicas who became the patron deity of the Aztec capital city, Tenochtitlan. The spectacular religious development that was founded on him is symbolized in two mythical episodes which were ritually celebrated by the Aztecs, one concerning the origin of the capital, the other telling of the birth of the ideal warrior, Huitzilopochtli, and the origin of massive H uman sacrifice. Aztec sacred history tells that Huitzilopochtli led his people, the Mexicas, from Chicomoztoc (the Place of Seven Caves), into the valley of Mexico, where he appeared in the form of a giant eagle landing on a cactus growing in the centre of Lake Texcoco (1325 ce ). This event marked the foundation of the new community and a shrine was built on the spot to celebrate Huitzilopochtli's power and authority. This shrine, which became the T emplo mayor of the Aztec empire, and the ritual activity associated with it, were modelled after the myth of Huitzilopochtli's birth as a ferocious solar warrior at the cosmic mountain, Coatepec, and the slaughter of his 400 brothers and sisters [14: 42–6]. Huitzilopochtli's supreme power was commemorated at the festival of Panquetzalitzli (Raising of Banners), which involved special human sacrifices following the opening ritual ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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