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Month of Xocotlhuetzi

Two boys climb a pole (image may not be visible in mobile version).

At its top are a shield with white feathers, spears, banners on serrated poles [from cacti], two flowers [xocoxochitl?], and two bifurcated objects [teocuitlanacochtli?]. Above the pole are the head of a long-billed bird with a seed in its mouth, a loaf studded with nuts and resembling a starry night, an ear of corn, and a trapezoidal object. The text describes the festival as being of the Tepanecs.

This month is called Fall of fruit or Hueymiccaihuitl (Great feast of the dead) and was commemorated by a ceremonial pole-climbing competition. This month was dedicated to Xocotl, the Aztec god of fire and the stars (also called Otontecuhtli whose cult was especially developed among the Tepanec tribes). Teocuitlanacochtli are associated with worship of the god, Xipe Tótec.

Xocotl is the generic Nahuatl language classification for sour or acidic fruit, used in the names of many species of fruit tree including atoya-xocotl (flowing stream plum), maza-xocotl (deer plum), atoya-xocotl (large plum ciruela ) te-xocotl (yellow or red hawberries ), xal-xocotl (sand plum or guava), and coua-xocotl (serpent fruit), but also used in particular for jocote (spondias purpurea), hence the association with the festival of the dead.

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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.

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