The Art

This piece was taken from the Codex Borbonicus and pictures a confrontation between Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, one of the two high gods and the god of chance and fate, respectively. Esther Pasztory explains the two gods' positions as, "They are in semi-seated poses against the timeless and spaceless neutrality of the page." The relationship between these gods is very interesting. Quetzaclcoatl is the god who was once a man banished from his kingdom because of temptation, but later redeemed himself and rose into heaven as a god, becoming the symbol for penance and redemption. Tezcatlipoca is the god of chance and fate, and is therefore a popular figure in the Aztec religious world because he represents the arbitrary power of the gods (Pasztory, 197). By illustrating a confrontation between these two gods, the artists is demonstrating the relationship between redemption and forgiveness of the gods in the face of their immense yet arbitrary power.

This is an example of the tonalmatl section of the codices, where the significance of each week is charted and explained. Each week is illustrated by the patron deityof the week in a large panel, in this example, Tepeyollotl, accompanied by symbols for the thirteen individual days, the thirteen Lords of the Day, the nine Lords of the Night, and in the sections created by red guidelines, the thirteen birds or insects. The patrons of the weeks are with some exceptions the same deities of the patrons of the twenty day signs (Pasztory, 193).

Written by Talli Somekh.