Huehueteotl

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Huehueteotl ("Old god"; aged god in Nahuatl) is a Mesoamerican deity figuring in the pantheons of pre-Columbian cultures, particularly in Aztec mythology and others of the Central Mexico region. He is also sometimes called Ueueteotl. Although known mostly in the cultures of that region, images and iconography depicting Huehueteotl have been found at other archaeological sites across Mesoamerica, such as in the Gulf region, western Mexico, Protoclassic-era sites in the Guatemalan highlands such as Kaminaljuyú and Late-Postclassic sites on the northern Yucatán Peninsula (Miller and Taube, 1993:189).

Huehueteotl is frequently considered to overlap with, or be another aspect of, a central Mexican/Aztec deity associated with fire, Xiuhtecuhtli. In particular, the Florentine Codex identifies Huehueteotl as an alternative epithet for Xiutecuhtli, and consequently that deity is sometimes referred to as Xiutecuhtli-Huehueteotl.

However, Huehueteotl is characteristically depicted as an aged or even decrepit being, whereas Xiutecuhtli's appearance is much more youthful and vigorous, and he has a marked association with rulership and (youthful) warriors (Miller and Taube, op. cit.).

Worship

An Aztec religious observance was celebrated via boys hunting small animals such as snakes, lizards, frogs and even dragonflies larvae in the swamps to give them to the elders who served as the guardians of the fire deity. As a reward for these offerings, the priest would give them food. At these occasions the god was demonstrated as young with turquoise and quetzalfeathers for ceremonial purposes. Later during the month he appeared as ageing and tired, covered with the colours of glow; gold, black and red. Perhaps this has led to the confusion of the deity being two separate ones, as being displayed as such, or vice versa.

Another, more dramatic one, was a celebration consisting of feasts and a time of ceasing hostilities. The Aztecs cut out the hearts of human sacrifices, followed by burning them on coal. As a result of this, the people would regain Huehueteotl's favor through the gods elements - fire and blood.

References


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