Chalchiuhtlicue

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Chalchiuhtlicue (also Chalciuhtlicue, or Chalcihuitlicue) ("She of the Jade Skirt") was an Aztec goddess of love, beauty, youth, lakes, rivers, seas, streams, horizontal waters, storms, and baptism.[1] Reputedly universally revered at the time of the Spanish conquest, she was an important deity figure in the Postclassic Aztec realm of central Mexico.[2] Chalchiuhtlicue was also patroness of childbirth.[3] She was also called Matlalcueitl by the Tlaxcalans, enemies of the Aztecs.

Contents

Mythology

Chalchiuitlicue's name means "She Who Wears a Jade Skirt". She was also known as Matlalcueye—"She Who Wears a Green Skirt". This goddess was the wife (in some myths, sister) of the rain god, Tlaloc. Like other water deities, she was often associated with serpents. She was the mother of Tecciztecatl, an Aztec moon god. He was called "he who comes from the land of the sea-slug shell" because of the similarity between the moon and the slug. Tecciztecatl was portrayed as an old man who carries a large white seashell on his back.

For the Aztecs, Chalchiuhtlicue was the water goddess who was a personification of youthful beauty and ardor. She was represented as a river from which grew a prickly pear cactus laden with fruit, symbolizing the human heart.[4]

Chalchiutlicue's association with both water and fertility is derived from the Aztecs' common association of the womb with waters. This dual role gave her both life-giving and a life-ending role in Aztec mythology[5] In the Aztec creation myth of the Five Suns, Chalchiuhtlicue presided over the fourth sun, or creation, in her aspect as goddess of streams and standing water. This world—in the mythology, the world preceding the current (fifth) one—was destroyed by a great flood and its people transformed into fish.[6]

In her aquatic aspect, Chalchiutlicue was known as Acuecucyoticihuati, goddess of oceans, as well as the patron of women in labor. She was also said to be the wife of Xiuhtecuhtli, also called Huehueteotl "old god", the senior deity of the Aztec pantheon. He was the personification of light in the darkness, warmth in coldness, and life in death. A god of light and fire, he is often depicted with a red or yellow face, with a censer on his head.

The mythology of Chalchiuitlicue reports that she helped Tlaloc rule the paradise kingdom of Tlalocan. Chalchiutlicue brought fertility to crops and is said to have been the protector of children. According to legend she devoured the sun and moon.

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