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Huaxtec statue of Tlazolteotl from Mexico, 900-1521 CE (British Museum, id:Am1989,Q.3 )

In Aztec mythology, Tlazolteotl (or Tlaçolteotl, Nahuatl pronunciation: [tɬasoɬˈteotɬ]) is a goddess of purification, steam bath, midwives, filth, and a patroness of adulterers. In Nahuatl, the word tlazolli can refer to vice and diseases. Thus, Tlazolteotl was a goddess of filth (sin), vice, and sexual misdeeds. However, she was a purification goddess as well, who forgave the sins and disease of those caused by misdeeds, particularly sexual misdeeds.[1] Her dual nature is seen in her epithets; Tlaelquani ('she who eats filth [sin]') and Tlazolmiquiztli ('the death caused by lust'), and Ixcuina or Ixcuinan ('she of two faces').[2][3] Under the designation of Ixcuinan she was thought to be plural in number and four sisters of different ages by the names; Tiacapan (the first born), Teicu (the younger sister), Tlaco (the middle sister) and Xocotzin (the youngest sister).[4]

Her son was Centeotl and she was also known as Toci. She presides over the 13th trecena of the sacred 260-day year. Another son is Yum-Kax, the Maya maize god.[5]

Aztec religion[edit source | edit]

A depiction of Tlazoteotl, styled as in the Codex Borgia manuscript.

Tlazolteotl may have originally been a Huaxtec goddess from the Gulf Coast.[6] In the Aztec religion there were two main deities thought to preside over confession; Tezcatlipoca, because he was thought to be invisible and omnipresent, seeing everything, and Tlazolteotl, the goddess of lechery and unlawful love.[7] It is said that when a man confessed before Tlazolteotl everything was revealed. Confession to Tlazolteotl would be done through a priest but, unlike the Christian practice, it happened only once during a man's lifetime.

According to Aztec belief, it was Tlazolteotl who inspired vicious desires, and who likewise forgave and cleaned away the defilement of sin.[8] She was also thought to cause disease, especially sexually transmitted disease. It was said that Tlazolteotl and her companions would afflict people with disease if they indulged themselves in forbidden love.[9] The uncleanliness was considered both on a physical and moral level; and could be cured by steam-bath, a rite of purification, or calling upon Tlazolteteo, the goddesses of love and desires.[10]

Festival[edit source | edit]

Tlazolteotl was one of the primary Aztec deities celebrated in the festival of "Ochpaniztli" (meaning "sweeping") that was held September 2–21 to recognize the harvest season. The ceremonies conducted during this timeframe included ritual cleaning, sweeping, and repairing; as well as the casting of corn seed, dances, and military ceremonies.[11]

Other names[edit source | edit]

See also[edit source | edit]

Notes[edit source | edit]

  1. ^ Miller & Taube, p.168
  2. ^ Soustelle, p.104,199
  3. ^ Sahagun, Florentine codex book 1, p. 23
  4. ^ Sahagun, Florentine codex book 1, p. 23
  5. ^
  6. ^ Miller & Taube, p.168
  7. ^ Soustelle, p.199
  8. ^ Soustelle, p.199
  9. ^ Soustelle, p.193
  10. ^ Soustelle, p.193
  11. ^ Townsend, p.221

References[edit source | edit]