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coyolxauhqui, aztec goddess.
The earth goddess Coatlicue had four hundred sons and one daughter, Coyolxauhqui. One day whilst sweeping the temple on Coatapec, "serpent hill", Coatlicue swept up a ball of feathers, she placed it her bosom, but later found it had vanished and she had become pregnant. Her children thought this a shameful event and plotted to kill her. However the yet unborn child, Huitzilopochtli, became aware of the plot and was born fully-grown with full warriors dress, whereupon he killed his siblings, in particular Coyolxauhqui, who was beheaded her body cut to pieces and thrown down to the foot of Coatapec.
Huitzilopochtli is the god of the Aztecs. He not known amongst other peoples of the region, and was carried by the Aztecs throughout their travels from their legendary homelands in Atlan to their final teritory in central Mexico and their capital city Tenochtitlan, which was later to become Mexico City. In surviving Aztec codices, or books, their travels are represented by a series of stylised footprints.
Huitzilopochtli was a manifestation of the sun and its eternal struggle against the powers of darkness. As he was born to battle his brothers and sister so the sun rises each day to drive the moon and the stars from the sky. Coyolxauhqui would seem to represent the moon within this cosmology or, possibly, the Milky Way as she has few if any moon attributes.
The birth of Huitzilopochtli and the demise of Coyolxauhqui and her brothers also symbolises the Aztec ascendance over the other peoples of central Mexico giving justification for their domination. The fate of Coyolxauhqui may also symbolise the fall of the roll of women in society with rise of male domination.
The myth was turned into ritual, in form of the rite of human sacrifice. Human blood was needed to guarantee the sun rising every day. Prisoners on their way to be sacrificed passed by a carving in stone, representing the beheaded and decimated Coyolxauhqui, at the foot of the temple mound. At the summit of the mound stood the blood smeared statue of the deified Huitzilopochtli. The prisoners had their hearts ripped out upon the sacrificial stone and their bodies were thrown down onto the Coyolxauhqui stone at the foot of the temple mount.
Engineers laying cables in Mexico City discovered the Coyolxauhqui stone in 1978. Subsequent excavations showed it to be at the foot of the major Aztec temple, dedicated to Huitzilopochtli.
Well I hope you were paying attention as questions will be asked later.
The relief was designed to bring together an interpretation of the goddess Coyolxauhqui, from the discovered temple stone, a stylised foot motive, as shown on surviving Aztec codices depicting their wanderings to find a home, and a star paten, suggesting the milky way, one of the cosmological symbols of Coyolxauhqui's 400 brothers. Cast in plaster or resin, 48cm diameter, 4cm thick.