Link to enlarge K6042 (Las Bocas - Ceramic Vessel) THE FOUNDATION RESEARCH DEPARTMENT

History of the Mexicans as Told by Their Paintings
Translated and edited by Henry Phillips Jr.
Read before the American Philosophical Society, October 19, 1883
Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society XXI:616-651, 1883.
Edited by Alec Christensen

Table of Contents


Chapter   1
Chapter   2
Chapter   3
Chapter   4
Chapter   5
Chapter   6
Chapter   7
Chapter   8
Chapter   9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23

Notes 1-16
Note 17
Note 18
Notes 19-48
Notes 49-62
CHAPTER 1ST. [p.616]

Of the Creation and Beginning of the World and of the Original and Superior Deities.

Through symbols and writings formerly used, through the traditions of the old and of those who in the days of their infidelity were priests and pontiffs, and through the narrations of the lords and chief men to whom they were accustomed to teach the law and educate in their temples in order to render them learned, brought together before me with their books and hieroglyphics, which according to what is demonstrated are believed [617] to be of ancient origin, many of them anointed with human blood, it appears that there was originally one god named Tonacatecli, 1 who took for wife Tonacaçiguatl, or as she is sometimes called Cachequacalt, who created themselves, and were perpetual inhabitants of the thirteenth heaven; of whose creation and beginning likewise there is nothing known except the fact that it also originated in the thirteenth heaven. Of this god and goddess were engendered four sons, the eldest was called Tlaclau queteztzatlipuca, 2 whom the peoples of Quaxoçingo and Tascala reverenced as their chief divinity under the name of Camaxtle, 3 and who was said to have been born of a ruddy color all over. They had a second son named Yayanque tezcatlipuca; he who was the greatest and the worst, who overpowered and bore sway over the other three, because he was born in the middle of all (naçio en medio de todos); he was totally black at birth. The third was called Queçalcoatl, 4 and for another name Yaguelicatl. To the fourth and the smallest they gave the appellation of Omitecilt, 5 and Maquezcoatl, whom the Mexicans termed Vchilobi, because he was left-handed, and looked upon him as their chief deity, because in the land from whence they came, he was so considered, and was more especially the god of warfare than were the other divinities. Of these four sons of Tonacatecli and Tonacaçigulatl (sic), Tezcatlipuca was the one who knew all thoughts, and was in all places and read all hearts, for which he was called Moyocoya, 6 which is to say "the all-powerful," according to which idea he is represented in painting only as the air, by which name he is not commonly known. Vchilobi, 7 the younger brother, and god of the Mexicans, was born without flesh (naciò sin carne), but only bones, in which condition he lived six hundred years, during which period of time the gods did nothing whatever, the father as well as the sons, and in their representation there is no account taken of these six hundred years, counting them as they do from twenty to twenty, according to the sign which he holds, which stands for twenty. These gods were known by these and many other names, according to how their attributes are understood, for each community called them differently by reason of their dialects, and so they were given diverse appellations.


Previous Page  |  Table of Contents  |  Next Page

Return to top of page