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 4TH. [p.619]

Of the manner which they have of reckoning.18

And since they commence to count time from this first sun, and their reckoning runs on from it continuously, leaving behind the 600 years, the period of the birth of the gods, and while Vchilobus was in his bones, and without flesh, as has been narrated, I shall now proceed to tell the manner and order in which they reckon their year, and this is it. As has been already said, each year contains 360 days, and 18 months, each month of 20 days; and of how they use up 5 days in festivals, which became fixed, we shall speak later in our chapters touching on the feasts and their celebrations. Holding the year as has been said they correct from four to four, and neither in their language nor in their paintings, take any account of more than four years. The first they call tectapatl, and paint it as a stone or flint with which they cut open the body in order to draw out the heart; the second, cali, which they represent as a house, for by this name they call a house; the third, tochili, whom they paint with a rabbit’s [620] head, for by this term they rabbit; the fourth, acal, which they represent as a sign for water. They reckon with these four numbers and objects till they come to the thirteenth year, which then rounds the great cycle, like the indiction or lustrum of the Romans; and when finished four times thirteen. the four years being run four times thirteen, making fifty and two, this they call an age (epoch), and when fifty and two years are ended, with much pomp they celebrate the great year, and place the period with those already passed, and recommence anew their four year computation; the festival of which and the entrance into the new cycle was celebrated among the Mexicans by extinguishing all the lights that existed, and the priests would go to seek light again at a temple situated on a high mountain near Estapalapa, where the ceremonies took place, about two leagues distant from Mexico. They then continued henceforth their count of four years, and then of thirteen, till they had reached their fifty-two, and so on from fifty-two to fifty-two for all time.

Returning to the giants who were created at the time when Tezcatlipuca was the sun, it is said that when he ceased lo be the sun, they all perished, and tigers made an end to them and ate them up, so that no one remained; and these tigers were created in this fashion; that after thirteen times fifty-two years had passed Queçalcoatl became the sun, and Tezcatlipuca ceased to be it, because he gave him a blow with a great stick, and threw him over into the water, and there he was metamorphosed into a tiger, and issued forth thence to slay the giants; and this appeared in the heavens, for it is said that the ursa major came down to the water because he is Tezcatlipuca, and was on high in memory of him.

In these eras the Maceguales ate the nuts of the pine trees and nothing else, which lasted while Queçalcoatl was the sun, during thirteen times fifty-two years, which was 676 years, which being come to an end Tezcatlipuca, on account of being a god did the same actions as his other brothers, and hence was made a tiger, and gave a kick in the breech to Queçalcoatl, which upset him and finished his term of being the sun; and then a terrible wind arose which carried away all the Maceguales, except a few who remained suspended in the air, and the rest turned into apes and monkeys; then Tlalocatecli, the god of the lower regions, became the sun, and remained so seven times fifty-two years, which are 364 years, in which time the Maceguales had nothing to eat, but açiçiutli, which is a species of seed of a grain which is hunt in the water. When these years were over, Queçalcoatl sent down a rain of fire from heaven, and deprived Atlalocatecli of being the sun, and made his wife Chalchiutlique, the sun in his place, who remained so six times fifty-two years, which are 312 years, and during that time the Maceguales ate only a seed of a grain like maize named cintrococopi.19 And so from the birth of the gods to the fulfillment of the sun according to the count were 2000 and 600 and 20 and 8 years.


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