Tezcatlipoca: Trickster and Supreme Deity
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The interlocking complexities of Tezcatlipoca’s nature, multiple roles, and metaphorical attributes illustrate the extent to which his influence penetrated Aztec belief and social action across all levels of late Postclassic central Mexican culture. Tezcatlipoca examines the results of archaeological investigations—objects like obsidian mirrors, gold, bells, public stone monuments, and even a mosaic skull—and reveals new insights into the supreme deity of the Aztec pantheon and his role in Aztec culture.
showing this feature in addition to the smoking mirror in the rest of the trecenas. The other example in which the ezpitzal appears in conjunction with Tezca tlipoca is the main frame in the trecena 3, where Tepeyollotl-Tezcatlipoca has a huge jet of blood over his head that expands in six streams, in which a heart floats (figure 2.4). By comparing the iconography of this ezpitzal with the one that appears in figures 2.1 and 2.3 and the figures we will see henceforth, we see that this depiction
self-sacrifice, wind had a creative role, illustrated by Quetzalcoatl’s birth, as he was conceived by the breath of the supreme deity (Codex Telleriano-Remensis 1995, folio 8v; Olivier 2003, 20–22). At the moment when the sun and the moon were created in Teotihuacan, Quetzalcoatl-Ehecatl started the movement of the sun by blowing on him (Sahagún 1950–82, book VII: 8). As Yohualli Ehecatl, or “Night Wind,” the Lord of the Smoking Mirror was closely associated with the idea of destruction (Alva
probably introduced to Yucatan from the highlands. Central Mexican images of Tezcatlipoca in the Codex Borgia (17, 21) bear obsidian sandals also seen on a male figure in fragmentary murals from San Angel, a Late Postclassic site in northern Yucatan (Gallereta Negrón and Taube 2005, 104, figures 6.8, 6.9; Milbrath 2013, 43, 61–62, 97). The Codex Borgia is probably from the PueblaTlaxcala area, one of three central Mexican centers for worship of Tezcatlipoca (Anawalt 1981, 848; Milbrath 2013,
18.104.22.168.0 9 Ahau katun end 12/12/297 Saturn retrograde 11/14/297 to 3/29/298* [====S1======KE=====================S2====] 22.214.171.124.0 7 Ahau katun end 8/29/317 Saturn retrograde 6/26/317 to 11/10/317 [====S1============ KE ===S2====] 126.96.36.199.0 5 Ahau katun end 5/16/337 Saturn retrograde 3/2/337 to 7/21/337 [====S1================ KE ============S2====] 188.8.131.52.0 3 Ahau katun end 1/31/357 Jupiter retrograde 2/1/357 to 6/5/357 [===S1KE=========================S2===]
objects in which the numinous becomes tangible. In one sense, Tezcatlipoca was a reification of age-old Mesoamerican patterns of symbolic thought, which abstracted supernatural connotations from the natural world. Specifically, Tezcatlipoca emerged as a supernatural embodiment of cultural attributes inspired by, and bestowed upon, aspects of regional geography/geology and local fauna by the Late Postclassic, pre-Aztec cultures of the Valley of Mexico that were shaped by analogical symbolic