Mictlantecuhtli was simply among many kind of Aztec gods associated through death and also the Underworld, however he was both the first and the many vital of these deities.

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The religion of the Aztec world have the right to seem to outsiders favor one that is obsessed through death. Gods are often shown as skeletal or bloody, the Underworld is featured often in myths, and Spanish conquistadors painted a brutal, and also most likely exaggerated, image of huguy sacrifice on an epic range.

To the Aztecs, yet, signs of death might likewise be icons of life. The 2 ideas were intertwined in their worldcheck out and also neither was possible without the various other.

This is the factor that their chief god of the Underpeople, Mictlantecuhtli, plays a central duty in the story of exactly how mansort was produced.

Many souls finished up in Mictlantecuhtli’s realm, making him one of the most necessary god of the Aztec pantheon. He was so effective and central to the society, in truth, that his festival day is still commemorated by people in Mexico and also the southern USA.

Imeras of Mictlantecuhtli

Mictlantecuhtli was portrayed in Aztec imagery as a 6-foot tall blood-splattered skeleton. While his challenge was skeletal, large bulging eyes were collection into his eye sockets.

His jaw was regularly opened up commonly to take in the stars that sank right into the Underhuman being in the time of the day. He regularly posed through his arms up in a threatening stance.

Like many type of Mesoamerihave the right to deities, Mictlantecuhtli wore a fancy feathered heattend to. This is frequently abstract in sculpture, however in paintings it have the right to be identified as being decorated via owl feathers and also paper banners.

Mictlantecuhtli also wore sandals that suggested his noble place.

In many type of images, he also wore macabre jewelry. His necklace was a string of huguy eyeballs and the spools in his ears were made of bone.

These qualities indicated his role as a god of death, but in Aztec iconography they were widespread for various other deities as well. Bones were connected to the cycle of life and fatality, so they were common in the imagery of fertility and also health and wellness also.

The Creation of the Gods

As one of the earliest Aztec gods, Mictlantecuhtli was not born to one more collection of divine beings. He was rather developed by the four gods who shaped the world.


Xipe Totec, Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcoatl, and Huitzilopochtli were the youngsters of the first 2 primordial beings, Ometecuhtli and also his wife Omecihuatl. When they were 6 a century old, they started to create the civilization.

The first made the sunlight, then the initially guy and also woguy. Needing to feed the civilization they had actually made, they then developed maize. Next off, they designed the calendar so that the guy and also woman kbrand-new once to plant and harvest the maize.

The 4 creator gods knew that the man and womale would eventually die, so they soon produced Mictlantecuhtli and also his wife, Mictecacihuatl. They were installed as the lord and also lady of the Undercivilization and also were prepared to obtain the first souls that died on the newly-inhabited Planet.

Many divine beings in Aztec mythology were born or developed in comparable male and female pairings. While they did not necessarily look aprefer, Mictecacihuatl was depicted as flayed quite than skeletal, they functioned in tandem in a shared function.

For Mictlantecuhtli and also Mictecacihuatl, this duty wregarding ascendancy over the dead.

Mictantecuhtli and also the Land also of the Dead

Mictlantecuhtli’s name equates ssuggest to “Lord of the Land of the Dead.” Mictlan, the realm of death that he ruled over, was the northernmost and lowest component of the complicated Aztec Underworld.

The other areas of the Underhuman being were booked for those that passed away in specific circumstances, such as in fight or by drowning. They would certainly be ruled over by various gods and also periodically be provided the opportunity to resurrect as a different creature.

Mictlan, but, was where most souls finished up. Those who passed away unimpressive deaths from illness or old age belonged to Mictlantecuhtli.

Unprefer some cultures, the Aztecs did not think that the gods of the dead passed any type of judgment on them. One’s fate in the immortality was not based on actions or ethical virtue, but only on the manner of death.


Since so many kind of souls finished up in Mictlan, Mictlantecuhtli constantly struggled to maintain order. This frequently put him in conflict with the gods of development and also fertility bereason an overabundance of brand-new souls would certainly result in chaos in his realm.

The Aztecs viewed Mictlantecuhtli as an effective god, yet not an evil one. His objective wregarding dominion over the Underworld and also he had actually no specific animosity for the living.

The first Europeans to encounter images of the Aztec gods, but, witnessed the skeletal lord of the dead in a much different light. They described Mictlantecuhtli as:

“The lord of the underpeople, Tzitzimitl, the very same as Lucifer.”

-Friar Pedro de los Rios, Codex Vaticanus 3738

The Animals of Death

Like many kind of societies, the Aztecs often connected their gods via certain plants and also animals they experienced on Planet.

Unsurprisingly, Mictlantecuhtli was paired with numerous animals who were connected with the night and dark spaces. These included:

Owls – The nocturnal birds provided the feathers for his headdress. Their wide eyes also mirrored his.Bats – Bats arise only at night. Due to the fact that of the geology of Mexico and also Central America, they often come from cave fissures that offer the impression that they’re flying out from the Undercivilization.Spiders – Spiders were linked through death and darkness in many kind of parts of the primitive civilization whether or not they were venomous.Dogs – Around the civilization, dogs were regularly shelp to acfirm the souls of the dead on their journey or guard them as soon as they got to the Underworld.

Mictlantecuhtli’s association with dogs was pictured in the calendar of the Aztecs. Each of the twenty gods represented was given a matching pictograph for their day in the calendar cycle, and Mictlantecuhtli was the god of Itzcuintli, the dog.

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This supposed that Mictlantecuhtli was responsible for giving the souls for anyone born on a day of the dog sign and for those born on his separate day of the week, which was the 6th day of a thirteenager day week.