Tlaloc (Classical Nahuatl: Tlālōc [ˈtɬaːloːk]) was an important deity in Aztec religion, a god of rain, fertility, and water. He was a beneficent god who gave life and sustenance, but he was also feared for his ability to send hail, thunder and lightning, and for being the lord of the powerful element of water. In Aztec iconography he is normally depicted with goggle eyes and fangs. He was associated with caves, springs and mountains. He is known for having demanded child sacrifices.
In Aztec cosmology, the four corners of the universe are marked by "the four Tlalocs" (Classical Nahuatl: Tlālōquê [tɬaːˈloːkeʔ]) which both hold up the sky and functions as the frame for the passing of time. Tlaloc was the patron of the Calendar day Mazatl and of the trecena of Ce Quiyahuitl (1 Rain). In Aztec mythology, Tlaloc was the lord of the third sun which was destroyed by fire.
In the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, one of the two shrines on top of the Great Temple was dedicated to Tlaloc. The High Priest who was in charge of the Tlaloc shrine was called "Quetzalcoatl Tlaloc Tlamacazqui". However the most important site of worship to Tlaloc was on the peak of Mount Tlaloc, a 4100 metres high mountain on the eastern rim of the Valley of Mexico. Here the Aztec ruler came and conducted important ceremonies once a year, and throughout the year pilgrims offered precious stones and figures at the shrine.
In Coatlinchan a colossal statue weighing 168 tons was found that was thought to represent Tlaloc. Some scholars believe that the statue may not have been Tlaloc at all but his sister or some other female deity. This statue was relocated to the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City in 1964.
Tlaloc was also associated with the watery world of the dead, and with the earth. The name is thought to be derived from the Nahuatl word tlālli "earth", and its meaning has been interpreted as "path beneath the earth", "long cave" or "he who is made of earth". J. Richard Andrews interprets it as "one that lies on the land", identifying Tlaloc as a cloud resting on the mountaintops. Other names of Tlaloc were Tlamacazqui ('Giver') and Xoxouhqui ('Green One'); and (among the contemporary Nahua of Veracruz) Chaneco.
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