Seasonality in Central Mexican Painted Images of Tlaloc: From Classic to Postclassic

Author(s): Susan Milbrath

Year: 2016


Tlaloc, the rain god of Central Mexico, has different seasonal avatars in painted imagery. Colonial codices document these variants in veintena festivals recorded to help Spanish friars detect survivals of indigenous religion. Rainy season imagery shows Tlaloc associated with maize plants and agricultural fertility. In contrast, imagery of the dry season emphasizes Tlaloc’s mountain aspect, because the rain god withdrew into the mountains to hold back the rainfall. The priests performed mountain sacrifices to Tlaloc during the dry season, and the texts suggest these sacrifices placated Tlaloc so that he would release rainfall during the rainy season. Corresponding dry season images can be recognized in the Postclassic Codex Borgia, which shows Tlaloc in scenes of blood sacrifice with death aspects of the maize goddess. The Borgia shows a different aspect of Tlaloc during the rainy season, one that bestows rainfall and helps fertilize the fields. A similar dichotomy between rainy and dry season imagery of Tlaloc can be seen in mural paintings of the Teotihuacan Storm God. The audience for the Teotihuacan murals in elite apartment compounds was clearly the residents and visitors, but seasonal variations in the Storm God’s imagery was certainly well know to the general populace.

Cite this Record

Seasonality in Central Mexican Painted Images of Tlaloc: From Classic to Postclassic. Susan Milbrath. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404290)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;