The Aztec Gods

The Aztecs left their homeland, Aztlan, and migrated to the Valley of Mexico at the behest of their patron deity Huitzilopochtli (hummingbird-left). They founded their capital in the center of a lake where an eagle was perched on a nopal cactus. Huitzilopochtli had prophesied that his people would encounter this vision when they arrived at the promised land.

Gods and goddesses were integral components of Aztec foundational mythology and everyday life. They ruled over the natural forces essential for living—water, fire, and rain—and the Aztec table. Deities were considered active participants in the well-being of the empire and its people. To satisfy the needs of the deities and win their favor, the Aztecs celebrated them with monthly festivals that included human and animal sacrifices.

Please note: this work is not in the exhibition. 

Exhibition Home Page Ancient Styles in the New Era


Image: "Founding of Tenochtitlan," from Codex Mendoza (Mexico, 1541-42); 12 7/8 x 9 in. (32.7 x 22.9 cm). Bodleian Library, Oxford University. Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford 2011, MS. Arch. Selden A.1.