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Gruesome Sacrificial Temple of the Macabre Fertility God Xipe Totec Discovered in Mexico

Gruesome Sacrificial Temple of the Macabre Fertility God Xipe Totec Discovered in Mexico


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Delighted archaeologists in Mexico have found the first temple dedicated to the ‘Flayed Lord’ or Xipe Tótec, one of the most important Pre-Columbian deities. The find, which included a stone representation of the god and two sacrificial altars, was made by a team from the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History who are working on an excavation in the Ndachjian-Tehuacán archaeological site, in Puebla State. This is expected to help historians and other specialists to better understand pre-Hispanic religion and in particular this fertility god. It can ultimately lead to a better appreciation of the cultures of the Mesoamericans, especially the Aztecs.

Pre-Aztec Sacred Site

The ruins were once part of a pyramid that was used by the Popoloca Indians, who inhabited the area and developed their own unique culture. It is believed that “they built the temple between AD1000 and 1260” according to the news.com.au website. They were conquered by the fearsome Aztecs sometime in the fifteenth century but managed to preserve their own culture, and their religious beliefs possibly even influenced their imperial overlords.

Location where altars and sculptures were uncovered at Ndachjian–Tehuacán archaeological site. (Image: Melitón Tapia, INAH)

The Temple of the Flayed God

The temple unearthed is 36 feet (12 m) long by 11 feet (3.5 m) high. In the ruins are two large stone altars, that are at the top of a flight of steps. There are also some walls remaining of the original temple and in a niche in one, experts were shocked to find a massive sculpted head. It took over 30 workers to release the skull from the recess in the wall. Nearby they found a staircase that led to what was once the basement of the pyramid structure. Here archaeologists unearthed a second stone skull and a large sculpted torso.

Each of the stone heads is approximately 70 cm high and weighs around 200 kilograms. (Image: Héctor Montaño, INAH)

Experts began a preliminary study of the finds and soon established that it had been dedicated to the ancient fertility god. Based on certain features of the sculpted trunk such as a ‘skirt of feathers’, the experts concluded that it represented the god known to the Aztecs as Xipe Totec. It also had a third hand and this extra limb according to the Daily Mail , “represented the hand of a person who was sacrificed and whose skin was worn by the god.” The torso representing the deity is about two and a half feet long (80 cm) and it is a beautiful if rather sinister looking sculpture.

Torso sculpture of the god known as Xipe Tótec. (Image: Melitón Tapia, INAH)

The two skulls are also impressive pieces of sculpture. They are about 2’ 4” high (70cm) and they weigh almost 440 pounds (200kg). They were carved out of a large volcanic rock as was the torso which was imported into the region, but they were carved by local tradesmen. The noses of the skulls are depicted as cut and this would indicate that the sculptures represented sacrificial victims.

The noses of the sculpted heads are cut, representing sacrificial victims. (Image: Melitón Tapia, INAH)

Human Sacrifices and Flayed Victims

Xipe Tótec was one of the most important gods before the coming of the Spanish Conquistadors . He was the deity of fertility, spring, metal workers, and renewal and was very significant for the agricultural people of Mesoamerica. Many victims were sacrificed to the god as it was believed that he was appeased by human blood . He was typically represented wearing the skins of a sacrificial victim which he would shed to symbolize the renewal of nature. It was believed that if worshipers wore the skins of slain victims they were glorifying the divinity and he would bless them with his favors.

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A drawing of Xipe Totec, one of the deities described in the Codex Borgia. ( Public Domain )

The gory god Xipe Tótec was particularly important to the Aztecs and was known by them as ‘Our Lord the Flayed one’ and they adopted his worship from peoples such as the Popoloca Indians. One of the most important Aztec festivals was the Tlacaxipehualiztli, which was marked by large scale sacrifices of war captives. At this time, according to the Guardian. “priests worshipped Xipe Totec by skinning victims and then donning their skins.” It is reported in Time that it is also believed that “victims were killed in gladiator-style combat or by arrows on one platform.” The temple that was found in Puebla had two altars and it is speculated that one was used for sacrificing victims and the other was for the ritual skinning of the sacrificed.

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‘The Fight Between the Sacrifice and He Who Sacrifices’ by Juan de Tovar, circa 1546-1626. ( Public Domain )

Insights into Xipe Totec

The find is very important because experts only know about this Mesoamerican deity through the accounts of the Spanish and in representations in other temples. This discovery will allow experts to better understand the worship of Xipe Totec and temples dedicated to his worship. In particular it can add to our knowledge of pre-Hispanic religious practices and how it influenced the Aztecs. There are hopes that the site will yield more material remains related to the worship of this rather macabre deity. A massive mound near the unearthed temple is one that may potentially reveal more about the god Xipe Totec.


Mexican Archaeologists Discover Pre-Hispanic Temple of 'The Flayed Lord'

The Ndachjian–Tehuacan archaeological site in Puebla, Mexico, the first known temple to the Flayed Lord, a pre-Hispanic fertility god.

Mexican archaeologists have discovered what they say is the first temple of a pre-Hispanic fertility god known as the Flayed Lord who is depicted as a skinned human corpse.

The discovery is being hailed as significant by authorities at Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History because it is a whole temple, not merely depictions of the deity, which have been found in other cultures.

Experts found two skull-like stone carvings and a stone trunk depicting the god Xipe Totec.

"It had an extra hand dangling off one arm, suggesting the god was wearing the skin of a sacrificial victim," the Associated Press reports.

A skull-like stone carving and a stone trunk depicting the Flayed Lord, a pre-Hispanic fertility god depicted as a skinned human corpse. Meliton Tapia Davila/AP hide caption

A skull-like stone carving and a stone trunk depicting the Flayed Lord, a pre-Hispanic fertility god depicted as a skinned human corpse.

"Priests worshipped Xipe Totec by skinning human victims and then donning their skins. The ritual was seen as a way to ensure fertility and regeneration," according to the AP.

The temple was recently uncovered in excavated ruins of the Popoloca Indians in the state of Puebla in central Mexico.


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XIPE TOTEC - THE FLAYED GOD

Xipe Totec as depicted in the Codex Borgia, shown holding a bloody weapon and wearing flayed human skin as a suit.

Xipe Tótec ('our lord the flayed') was one of the most important gods of the pre-Hispanic era.

In Aztec mythology and religion, Xīpe Totēc was a life-death-rebirth deity, god of agriculture, vegetation, the east, disease, spring, goldsmiths, silversmiths, liberation and the seasons.

Various methods of human sacrifice were used to honor him.

The skins were often taken from sacrificial victims who had their hearts cut out, and some representations of Xipe Totec show a stitched-up wound in the chest, believed to signify the removal of the heart before flaying.

It is likely that sculptures of Xipe Totec were ritually dressed in the flayed skin of sacrificial victims and wore sandals.

Priests worshipped Xipe Totec by skinning victims and then donning their skins.

they then placed in small holes in front of the altars, sealing them up with the carvings found at the site.

The construction is located west of the Central Set of Ndachjian (popoloca, 'water inside the pot' or 'within the hill') and is 12 meters long by 3.5 high.

Shocked researchers uncovered the first of the sculptures, made of volcanic rock.

Assisted by 35 workers, the specialists released the skull and, a short distance away, located a stucco cube decorated with red color, and the start of the staircase that gave access to the pyramidal base of a temple.

Each of the stone skulls is approximately 70 centimeters tall and weighs about 200 kilograms, archaeologists say.

Xipe Tótec ('our lord the flayed') was one of the most important gods of the pre-Hispanic era. The newly uncovered statue had an extra hand dangling off one arm (top), suggesting the god was wearing the skin of a sacrificial victim.

They then found another cube with red pigment, the second of the stone skulls and the sculpted torso of Xipe Tótec.

Archaeologist Luis Alberto Guerrero, recognized in the back of the figure a series of finishes that simulate the moorings of the skin with which Xipe Totec was dressed, and a skirt of feathers, unusual feature in the representations of this pre-Hispanic god.

The archeologist Noemí Castillo at the scene of the temple, and with one of the sculptures

Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History said the find was made during recent excavations of Popoloca Indian ruins in Puebla state

'Sculpturally it is a very beautiful piece,' Tejero said.

'It measures approximately 80 centimeters high and has a hole in the belly that was used, according to the sources, to place a green stone and 'endow them with life' for the ceremonies. '

Another detail is in the left arm, which has a right hand hung back.

The archaeologists said it is not a mistake of the maker, because it symbolizes the hand of the sacrificed person who 'was hanging' after the ritual skinning.

The researcher theorizes that although the two works represent a skinning, they would have been produced by different craftsmen given the contrasts in their features and minimal differences in size.

They were carved in volcanic stone (possibly rhyolite) that is foreign to the region.

It is believed that although they were imported material, they were carved in situ as they do not show damage that they might have suffered during their transfer, taking into account the scarce means of transport of the time.

Investigators work at the Ndachjiana Tehuacan archaeological site in Tehuacan, Puebla state, Mexico, where archaeologist have identified the first known temple to the Flayed Lord, a pre-Hispanic fertility god depicted as a skinned human corpse.


Pre-Aztec temple to ‘Flayed Lord’ fertility god depicted as skinned human corpse discovered in Mexico

Mexican experts say they have found the first temple of the Flayed Lord, a pre-Hispanic fertility god depicted as a skinned human corpse.

Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History said the find was made during recent excavations of Popoloca Indian ruins in the central state of Puebla.

The institute said on Wednesday that experts found two skull-like stone carvings and a stone trunk depicting the god Xipe Totec.

It had an extra hand dangling off one arm, suggesting the god was wearing the skin of a sacrificial victim.

Priests worshipped Xipe Totec by removing the skins of human victims and wearing them. The ritual was seen as a way to ensure fertility and regeneration.

The Popolocas, who were later conquered by the Aztecs, built the temple at a complex known as Ndachjian-Tehuacan between 1000-1260 AD

Ancient accounts of the rituals suggest victims were killed in gladiator-style combat or with arrows on one platform, then skinned on another platform. The layout of the temple at Tehuacan seems to match that description.

Depictions of the god had been found before in other cultures, including the Aztecs, but not a whole temple.

University of Florida archaeologist Susan Gillespie, who was not involved in the project, wrote that “finding the torso fragment of a human wearing the flayed skin of a sacrificial victim in situ is perhaps the most compelling evidence of the association of this practice and related deity to a particular temple, more so to me than the two sculpted skeletal crania”.

“If the Aztec sources could be relied upon, a singular temple to this deity (whatever his name in Popoloca) does not necessarily indicate that this was the place of sacrifice,” Ms Gillespie added.

“The Aztec practice was to perform the sacrificial death in one or more places, but to ritually store the skins in another, after they had been worn by living humans for some days.

“So it could be that this is the temple where they were kept, making it all the more sacred.”

Additional reporting by AP


Mexican experts discover first temple of god depicted as skinned human corpse

Mexican experts say they have found the first temple of the Flayed Lord, a pre-Hispanic fertility god depicted as a skinned human corpse.

Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History said Wednesday the find was made during recent excavations of Popoloca ruins in Puebla state.

The institute said experts found two skull-like stone carvings and a stone trunk depicting the god, Xipe Totec. It had an extra hand dangling off one arm, suggesting the god was wearing the skin of a sacrificial victim.

Priests worshipped Xipe Totec by skinning human victims and then donning their skins. The ritual was seen as a way to ensure fertility and regeneration.

The Popolocas built the temple at a complex known as Ndachjian-Tehuacan between AD 1000 and 1260 and were later conquered by the Aztecs.

Ancient accounts of the rituals suggested victims were killed in gladiator-style combat or by arrows on one platform, then skinned on another platform. The layout of the temple at Tehuacan seems to match that description.

Depictions of the god had been found before in other cultures, including the Aztecs, but not a whole temple.

Susan Gillespie, a University of Florida archaeologist who was not involved in the project, wrote that “finding the torso fragment of a human wearing the flayed skin of a sacrificial victim in situ is perhaps the most compelling evidence of the association of this practice and related deity to a particular temple, more so to me than the two sculpted skeletal crania.

“If the Aztec sources could be relied upon, a singular temple to this deity (whatever his name in Popoloca) does not necessarily indicate that this was the place of sacrifice,” Gillespie wrote.

“The Aztec practice was to perform the sacrificial death in one or more places, but to ritually store the skins in another, after they had been worn by living humans for some days. So it could be that this is the temple where they were kept, making it all the more sacred.”


Archaeologists Find First-Known Temple of ‘Flayed Lord’ in Mexico

Xipe Tótec, an important god to many pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican cults, was worshipped with a gruesome annual ritual: sacrificial victims, typically prisoners of war or slaves, were killed and then flayed, their skins donned by priests until they tightened and wore down.

Known as the “Flayed Lord,” Xipe appears in art from the period. Needless to say, it’s not hard to pick him out according to the 16th-century ethnographer Diego Durán:

“He was dressed in the skin of a sacrificed man, and on his wrists hung the hands of the skin. In his right hand he carried a staff, at the end of which were attached rattles. In his left hand he carried a shield decorated with yellow and red feathers, and from the hand emerged a small red banner with feathers at the end. Upon his head was a red head-dress with a ribbon, also red. This was tied in an elaborate bow on his forehead, and in the middle of this bow was a golden jewel. On his back hung another headdress with three small banners protruding, from which were suspended three red bands in honor of the three names of this deity. He also wore an elaborate, splendid breechcloth, which seemed to be part of the human skin in which he was attire.”

Now, Richard Gonzales of NPR reports, archaeologists have uncovered what is believed to be the first known temple to Xipe in central Mexico’s Puebla state.

The discovery was made amidst the ruins of the Popoloca people, a pre-Hispanic group that was conquered by the Aztecs. Built by the Popolocas between 1000 and 1260 A.D., the temple sits within a larger complex known as Ndachjian-Tehuacan. Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History revealed that experts found two skull-like stone carvings depicting Xipe, each weighing more than 400 pounds, reports Jack Guy of CNN. They also discovered a stone trunk that had an extra hand dangling down from one arm—believed to be a representation of the god wearing a sacrificial victim’s skin.

Xipe wore multiple hats. “Recent treatments of this deity by Americanists have tended to discuss him either primarily as a god of the renewal of vegetation in the spring (i.e., as a fertility figure), as a god of liberation (i.e., particularly, as a penitential figure), as the central figure in a cult of 'trophy skins,' … even as a phallic god," Franke J. Neumann of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University details in a paper about Xipe published in the History of Religions journal.

The deity was intimately connected to the Earth’s cycle of regeneration. As such, human sacrifices took place in the spring, during the festival of Tlacaxipehualiztli, to ensure a fruitful harvest. The flayed skins, which rotted away to reveal a living human beneath them, represented fresh plants emerging from decayed husks.

In addition to the statue fragments, the excavation team discovered the remains of two altars, which “would have been used as part of ceremonies in which priests skinned their victims,” writes CNN’s Guy. But Susan Gillespie, a University of Florida archaeologist who was not involved in the excavation, tells the Associated Press it is hard to be sure that ritual sacrifice took place at the recently discovered site.

“[A] singular temple to this deity (whatever his name in Popoloca) does not necessarily indicate that this was the place of sacrifice,” she says. “The Aztec practice was to perform the sacrificial death in one or more places, but to ritually store the skins in another, after they had been worn by living humans for some days. So it could be that this is the temple where they were kept, making it all the more sacred.”

Though the rituals associated with this site may not be entirely clear, the temple ruins constitute a major archaeological discovery. Gillespie honed in on the stone torso adorned with flayed skin, calling it “the most compelling evidence of the association of this practice and related deity to a particular temple.” And more revelations may be forthcoming. According to Guy, the team plans to continue its excavation and expects to find further fragmentary depictions of the Flayed Lord.


Mexican Temple To Pre-Hispanic Fertility God Portrayed As Skinned Human Corpse Discovered

Experts from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History found the first temple of the flayed god Xipe Totec (“our lord of the flayed”), a pre-Hispanic fertility god depicted as a skinned human corpse. The priests of the temple were said to first flay the victims and would wear their skin.

The findings announced Wednesday included three stone sculptures dedicated to the god and two sacrificial altars.The god’s, Xipe Totec, sculpture was dressed in a skirt of feathers along with a flayed human skin, reported nes.com.au.

“Sculpturally it is a very beautiful piece,” experts wrote. “It measures approximately 80 centimeters high and has a hole in the belly that was used, according to sources, to place a green stone and ‘endow them with life’ for ceremonies.”

The institute said it was discovered during recent excavations of Popoloca Indian ruins in the central state of Puebla, reported Fox Nation.

The discovery is being hailed as significant, given the finding of the whole temple and not just the depiction of the deity, which had been the case in earlier findings of other similar cultures.

University of Florida archaeologist Susan Gillespie, who was not involved in the research, wrote that "finding the torso fragment of a human wearing the flayed skin of a sacrificial victim in situ is perhaps the most compelling evidence of the association of this practice and related deity to a particular temple, more so to me than the two sculpted skeletal crania," reported Associated Press.

“If the Aztec sources could be relied upon, a singular temple to this deity (whatever his name in Popoloca) does not necessarily indicate that this was the place of sacrifice,” Gillespie wrote. “The Aztec practice was to perform the sacrificial death in one or more places and to ritually store the skins in another, after they had been worn by living humans for some days. So it could be that, this is the temple where they were kept, making it all the more sacred.

While explaining the structure of the god, Xipe Totec, experts said it had two skull-like stone carvings and a stone trunk. The statue also had an extra hand loosely attached to one arm, suggesting the god was donned with the skin of sacrificed victim.

“It had an extra hand dangling off one arm, suggesting the god was wearing the skin of a sacrificial victim," the Associated Press reported. This ritual by as described from Aztec sources was believed essential to ensure fertility and regeneration, as a way to worship the god.

"Priests worshipped Xipe Totec by skinning human victims first and then donning their skins. The ritual was seen as a way to ensure fertility and regeneration," AP reported.

The Popolocas had built the temple at a complex known as Ndachjian-Tehuacan between A.D. 1000 and 1260 and which was later conquered by the Aztecs.

The excavated temple’s structure seemed to be matching with the ancient descriptions of rituals, which suggested that the victims were killed in a gladiator style combat on one platform and skinned on the other.

News.com.au reported the excavated site was 12m long and 3.5m in height. It is a portion of a larger walled compound. “You know where you’re going to start but not when you’re going to finish or what you’ll find,” said archaeologists.

The god, Xipe Totec, was an important religious figure back then and yet no findings were established till now, was itself surprising for experts.

The altars and sculptures have been moved to the Museum of Sitio de Tehuacan for safe keeping.

In this representational image, a picture taken at the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) laboratory, show limestone busts dated to the late Roman period, some 1,700 years ago in Jerusalem, Israel, on Dec. 30, 2018. Photo: Gettyiamge/ GALI TIBBON


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Contents

Originally the name of the first son of the creative couple is Tlatlauhca or Tlatlauhaqui Tezcatlipoca, "Smoking red mirror." Of obscure origin, this god is honored by the Tlaxcalans and Huejocinas with the name of Camaxtli, and apparently a deity of Zapotlan, Xalisco, is widely known in almost all of Mesoamerica with the name of Xipetotec, 'Our Lord Flayed'. His body is dyed yellow on one side and lined on the other, his face is carved, superficially divided into two parts by a narrow strip that runs from the forehead to the jawbone. His head wears a kind of hood of different colors with tassels that hang down his back. The Tlaxcala myth that refers to Camaxtle, a god identified as Xipe-Totec himself [21]

Camaxtle begins a war against the Shires and defeats them. The war lasts until 1 acatl, when Camaxtle is defeated, after this failure he meets one of the women created by Yayauhqui Tezcatlipoca, called Chimalma, and with her he conceives five children, one of whom is Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl, who governs Tula (Another myth says that it is Yayauhqui Tezcatlipoca, the enemy who in his invocation of Mixcoatl impregnates Chimalma) [21]

It's difficult to discern if Camaxtle is the same Tlatlauhqui Tezcatlipoca-Xipetotec or Yayauhqui Tezcatlipoca who changes his name to Mixcoatl or Huitzilopochtli himself as identified by some informants and authors. The truth is that he is related to fire and hunting. [21] After the destruction of the earth by water, came chaos. Everything was desolation. Humanity had died and the heavens were over the earth. When the gods saw that the heavens had fallen, they resolved to reach the center of the earth, opening four subterranean paths for this, and to enter these paths to lift them up. To reward such a great action, Tonacacihuatl and Tonacatecuhtli made their children the lords of the heavens and the stars, and the path that Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl traveled was marked by the Milky Way. And this great nebula was also called Mixcoatl or Iztac-Mixcoatl, 'white cloud snake' [22]

Xipe Totec appears in codices with his right hand upraised and his left hand extending towards the front. [24] Xipe Totec is represented wearing flayed human skin, usually with the flayed skin of the hands falling loose from the wrists. [25] His hands are bent in a position that appears to possibly hold a ceremonial object. [26] His body is often painted yellow on one side and tan on the other. [25] His mouth, lips, neck, hands and legs are sometimes painted red. In some cases, some parts of the human skin covering is painted yellowish-gray. The eyes are not visible, the mouth is open and the ears are perforated. [26] He frequently had vertical stripes running down from his forehead to his chin, running across the eyes. [8] He was sometimes depicted with a yellow shield and carrying a container filled with seeds. [27] One Xipe Totec sculpture was carved from volcanic rock, and portrays a man standing on a small pedestal. The chest has an incision, made in order to extract the heart of the victim before flaying. It is likely that sculptures of Xipe Totec were ritually dressed in the flayed skin of sacrificial victims and wore sandals. [28] [29] In most of Xipe Totec sculptures, artists always make emphasis in his sacrificial and renewal nature by portraying the different layers of skin.

Xipe Totec emerging from rotting, flayed skin after twenty days symbolised rebirth and the renewal of the seasons, the casting off of the old and the growth of new vegetation. [16] New vegetation was represented by putting on the new skin of a flayed captive because it symbolized the vegetation the earth puts on when the rain comes. [30] The living god lay concealed underneath the superficial veneer of death, ready to burst forth like a germinating seed. [31] The deity also had a malevolent side as Xipe Totec was said to cause rashes, pimples, inflammations and eye infections. [16]

The flayed skins were believed to have curative properties when touched and mothers took their children to touch such skins in order to relieve their ailments. [32] People wishing to be cured made offerings to him at Yopico. [8]

The annual festival of Xipe Totec was celebrated on the spring equinox before the onset of the rainy season it was known as Tlacaxipehualiztli ( [t͡ɬakaʃipewaˈlist͡ɬi] lit. "flaying of men"). [33] This festival took place in March at the time of the Spanish Conquest. [34] Forty days before the festival of Xipe Totec, a slave who was captured at war was dressed to represent the living god who was honored during this period. This occurred in every ward of the city, which resulted in multiple slaves being selected. [35] The central ritual act of "Tlacaxipehualiztli" was the gladiatorial sacrifice of war prisoners, which both began and culminated the festival. [36] On the next day of the festival, the game of canes was performed in the manner of two bands. The first band were those who took the part of Xipe Totec and went dressed in the skins of the war prisoners who were killed the previous day, so the fresh blood was still flowing. The opposing band was composed of daring soldiers who were brave and fearless, and who took part in the combat with the others. After the conclusion of this game, those who wore the human skins went around throughout the whole town, entering houses and demanding that those in the houses give them some alms or gifts for the love of Xipe Totec. While in the houses, they sat down on sheaves of tzapote leaves and put on necklaces which were made of ears of corn and flowers. They had them put on garlands and give them pulque to drink, which was their wine. [37] Annually, slaves or captives were selected as sacrifices to Xipe Totec. [38] After having the heart cut out, the body was carefully flayed to produce a nearly whole skin which was then worn by the priests for twenty days during the fertility rituals that followed the sacrifice. [38] This act of putting on new skin was a ceremony called 'Neteotquiliztli' translating to "impersonation of a god". [39] The skins were often adorned with bright feathers and gold jewellery when worn. [40] During the festival, victorious warriors wearing flayed skins carried out mock skirmishes throughout Tenochtitlan, they passed through the city begging alms and blessed whoever gave them food or other offerings. [8] When the twenty-day festival was over, the flayed skins were removed and stored in special containers with tight-fitting lids designed to stop the stench of putrefaction from escaping. These containers were then stored in a chamber beneath the temple. [41]

The goldsmiths also participated in Tlacaxipehualizti. They had a feast called Yopico every year in the temple during the month of Tlacaxipehualizti. A satrap was adorned in the skin taken from one of the captives in order to appear like Xipe Totec. On the dress, they put a crown made of rich feathers, which was also a wig of false hair. Gold ornaments were put in the nose and nasal septum. Rattles were put in the right hand and a gold shield was put in the left hand, while red sandals were put on their feet decorated with quail-feathers. They also wore skirts made of rich feathers and a wide gold necklace. They were seated and offered Xipe Totec an uncooked tart of ground maize, many ears of corn that had been broken apart in order to get to the seeds, along with fruits and flowers. The deity was honored with a dance and ended in a war exercise. [42]

Various methods of human sacrifice were used to honour this god. The flayed skins were often taken from sacrificial victims who had their hearts cut out, and some representations of Xipe Totec show a stitched-up wound in the chest. [43]

"Gladiator sacrifice" is the name given to the form of sacrifice in which an especially courageous war captive was given mock weapons, tied to a large circular stone and forced to fight against a fully armed Aztec warrior. As a weapon he was given a macuahuitl (a wooden sword with blades formed from obsidian) with the obsidian blades replaced with feathers. [44] A white cord was tied either around his waist or his ankle, binding him to the sacred temalacatl stone. [45] At the end of the Tlacaxipehualiztli festival, gladiator sacrifice (known as tlauauaniliztli) was carried out by five Aztec warriors two jaguar warriors, two eagle warriors and a fifth, left-handed warrior. [43]

"Arrow sacrifice" was another method used by the worshippers of Xipe Totec. The sacrificial victim was bound spread-eagled to a wooden frame, he was then shot with many arrows so that his blood spilled onto the ground. [44] The spilling of the victim's blood to the ground was symbolic of the desired abundant rainfall, with a hopeful result of plentiful crops. [46] After the victim was shot with the arrows, the heart was removed with a stone knife. The flayer then made a laceration from the lower head to the heels and removed the skin in one piece. These ceremonies went on for twenty days, meanwhile the votaries of the god wore the skins. [47]

Another instance of sacrifice was done by a group of metalworkers who were located in the town of Azcapotzalco, who held Xipe Totec in special veneration. [48] Xipe was a patron to all metalworkers (teocuitlapizque), but he was particularly associated with the goldsmiths. [49] Among this group, those who stole gold or silver were sacrificed to Xipe Totec. Before this sacrifice, the victims were taken through the streets as a warning to others. [48]

Other forms of sacrifice were sometimes used at times the victim was cast into a firepit and burned, others had their throats cut. [44]


Archaeologists find Mexico temple to god of skinning sacrifices

Handout picture released by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) taken on October 12, 2018 showing the first temple recently discovered of pre-Hispanic fertility god Xipe Totec (The Flayed Lord), in the archaeological site of Ndachjian-Tehuacan, in the Mexican state of Puebla. — Inah/Meliton Tapia/AFP pic

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MEXICO CITY, Jan 4 — Archaeologists in Mexico have found the first temple to the pre-Hispanic deity Xipe Totec, a god of fertility and war who was worshipped by sacrificing and skinning captives.

Evidence indicates that priests ritually sacrificed their victims on one of the temple’s two circular altars, then flayed them on the other and draped themselves in their skin, Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History said in a statement.

Historians have long known that Xipe Totec (“the flayed god”) was worshipped by numerous peoples across what is now central and western Mexico and the Gulf coast.

But the discovery — made among the ruins of the Ndachjian-Tehuacan archeological site in the central state of Puebla — is the first time a temple dedicated to the god has been found, the institute said.

The artefacts uncovered at the site include three stone sculptures of Xipe Totec: Two skinned heads and a torso, whose back is covered in engravings representing the sacrificial skins worn by the god.

“Sculpturally speaking it’s a very beautiful piece. It measures approximately 80 centimetres tall and has a hole in the belly, which according to historical sources is where a green stone was placed to ‘bring it to life’ for ceremonies,” said Noemi Castillo Tejero, the lead archaeologist on the project.

Handout picture released by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) taken on October 12, 2018 showing two sculptures dedicated to the pre-Hispanic fertility god Xipe Totec (The Flayed Lord), found at the first temple recently discovered of the deity in the archaeological site of Ndachjian-Tehuacan, in the Mexican state of Puebla. — Inah/Meliton Tapia/AFP pic

The skulls measure about 70cm tall and weigh some 200 kilograms.

The temple would have been used from around the year 1000 until about 1260, the institute said. The Spanish takeover of Mexico began in 1519 with the arrival of the conquistador Hernan Cortes.

The institute said Xipe Totec was one of the most important gods in pre-Hispanic Mexico, and was worshipped in a ceremony called Tlacaxipehualiztli, which in the indigenous Nahuatl language means “to wear the skin of the flayed one.”

Sacrificial victims were killed either through gladiatorial combat matches or by being shot with arrows, then flayed to glorify Xipe Totec, it said.

Their skins were then buried at the foot of the altars.

Two holes filled in with earth were found in front of the altars at the Ndachjian-Tehuacan site, it said. — AFP


Watch the video: Xipe Totec, The Lord with No Skin - Aztec Scary Story Time. Something Scary. Snarled (May 2022).