A mummy is shown seated on a basketwork throne with the glyph of Auizotl, a crown, feathered ornament made from quetzal plumes, a jade collar, and three men in background. The mummy has blood coming from it. The mummy of Ahuitzotl, with his glyph and other symbols of his royalty, is shown in the second stage of the funeral rites of the Aztec, the cremation. The three men in the background represent the slaves who were sacrificed when an emperor died.
Auitzotl, or Ahuitzol (reigned 1486-1502), the eighth Aztec emperor, son of Moctezuma (or Montezuma) and brother of Axayácatl and Tizoc, enlarged the Aztec empire to its greatest size. A ruthless military leader, he suppressed a Huastec rebellion and more than doubled the size of lands under Aztec dominance. He conquered the Mixtecs, Zapotecs, Tarascans, and others down to the western part of Guatemala. Under his rule the main temple at Tenochtitlán was completed. He died of a wasting disease. His funerary rites are described in the Codex Duran.
Three priests carry offerings and walk beside a stream into which are cast decaptitated birds. All the men carry bags or pouches, one carries a staff and an incense burner, another blows on a conch shell, and the third wrings the neck of a bird. A flowering cactus rests on an island in the middle of the water.
Under the reign of Ahuitzotl, Mexico suffered from a great drought. Ahuitzotl dammed the source of the Acuecuexco situated in Coyoancan. The decapitated doves were a ritual offering against drought. The priests wear necklaces of green stones or jade [chalchiuitl] and wear their long hair tied by with three red rings. Two of the priests wear a headdress of flowers, one carries an incense burner with Aztec incense or copal [copalli]. The conch shell was often used in religious ceremonies. The symbol of the flowering cactus represents Tenochtitlán.
As Fray Bernardino de Sahagún observed: the Mexicans “are held to be barbarians and of very little worth; in truth, however, in matters of culture and refinement, they are a step ahead of other nations." We explore the history and legacy of the Nahua and Maya civilizations, both of which challenge our preconceptions.