Tepoztecatl: God of Pulque, God of Water, God of the Hill

Tepoztécatl is mentioned in the History of the Indies of New Spain and the Islands of the Tierra Firme by Fray Diego Durán, as well as the Sahagun, Durán, and Tudela codices.

Tepoztecatl: God of Pulque, God of Water, God of the Hill
Tepoztecatl has elements associated with the cult of Tlaloc as one of the rain-generating deities.

This article is the continuation of the article entitled "Tepoztécatl, the archaeology, the sources and his paintings", which aims to establish that Ometochtli Tepoztécatl, as well as many other pulque gods, also has elements associated with Tláloc-Nappantecuhtli and that his celebration is part of the rites associated with Tláloc and the hills.

To achieve this, we will review the sources, paying more attention to the feast of Tepeíhuitl, which brings Tepoztécatl closer to Tláloc and allows us to understand the relationship between Tepoztécatl and many other pulque deities. As we have already said Tepoztécatl is one of the invocations of the god Ometochtli, god of pulque, and lord of the centzontotochtli or the 400 rabbits.

However, the god Tepoztécatl presents some characteristics that make him a more complex god than just an invocation of the god of pulque. The first characteristic that stands out is his role as the creator god of pulque, a deity venerated at least throughout central Mexico and above a patron god, which is exclusively linked to a population.

Evidence of this can be seen in the writing of Fray Bernardino de Sahagún "General History of the Things of the New Spain" in his book X, Chapter XXIX, paragraph IV "Of the Mexicans":

"These same people invented the way to make wine from the earth. It was a woman who first began and knew how to bore holes in the magueys to extract the honey from which wine is made; and she was called Mayáoel. And the one who first found the roots that are in the honey was called Pantécatl. And the authors of the art of making pulque, as it is made now, were called Tepuztécatl, Cuatlapanqui, Tliloa, Papaíztac, and Tzocaca, all of whom invented the way of making pulque in the mountain called Chichinauhya...".

This narrative demonstrates that Tepoztécatl, along with Mayahuel, Patécatl, and other deities mentioned by Sahagún are part of the religious pantheon not only of the Xochimilcas of Tepoztlán but of all the Nahua peoples of central Mexico. Now, in the religious calendar or Tonalpohualli, it is said that on the second day of the third one deer (with Tepeyolotl and Quetzalcoatl as lords) is ometochtli.

However, if what we want to establish is the date in the annual calendar or Xiuhpohualli, in that case, we do not have information about the twenty days for the celebration of the pulque gods; however, Sahagún in the appendix of the second book of his work General History of the Things of the New Spain, in the section of the Relation of the differences of the ministers who served the gods, lists a series of priests who are known as Umetochtli "Two Rabbit" and in addition to the invocation of one of the gods of pulque; all these mentioned for the score of Tepehíuitl.

"This Umetochtzin was the master of all the singers who were in charge of singing in the cúes; he had an account that they all came to do their offices in the cúes. They made a certain ceremony with the wine that they called teuuctli at the time that they had to make their offices.
The principal of this ceremony was Pahtécatl; he was in charge of the vessels in which the singers drank, of bringing them, and giving them, and collecting them and filling them with that wine which they called teuuctlio macuiluctli.
And he put two hundred and three reeds, of which only one was pierced, and when they drank them, the one who drank that one drank only himself, and no more. This was done after the office of having sung [...] "This tezcatzóncatl was in charge of preparing all of the above for when the feast of the God of wine was celebrated, in the month called tepeílhuitl.
This Umetochtli Yiauhquemetenía is in charge of preparing all the above mentioned for when the feast of the God of wine called Umetochtli took place, in the month of tepeílhuitl.
This Umetochtli Tomíyauh also was in charge of preparing all of the above for the feast of the god of wine, which was called Umetochtli Tomíyauh, in the month mentioned above.
This Acaloa Umetochtli had the charge of arranging all the above-mentioned that was minister for the feast of the god AcalhoaUmetochtli.
This Cuatlapanqui Umetochtli was in charge of preparing all of the above for the feast of the god of wine called Cuatlapanqui.
This Tlilhoa Umetochtli was in charge of preparing all the above-mentioned for when the feast of the God of Wine, called Tlilhoa Umetochtli, was held in the month of Tepeílhuitl.
This Umetochtli Pahtécatl was in charge of procuring the wine that was calledamacuiluctli or teuuctli, which was spent on the feast of panquetzaliztli.
This Umetochtli Napatecutli was in charge of preparing what was necessary for the tepeílhuitl feast [...]."
"This Umetochtli had a charge to do the same as above was said in Atlcaoalo's feast."

To clarify the relevance of this list, we proceeded to enumerate all the deities associated with pulque that appear in the books of Sahagún, in the Magliabechi and Tudela codices, and those that appear in the History of the Indies of New Spain and the Islands of the Tierra Firme by Fray Diego Durán.

In that Table we can observe that Sahagún is the one who dedicates more space to these deities of pulque since he mentions them in four different places, in Book I in chapter XXVI, in the appendices of book I chapter XVI, in the already mentioned relation of the appendix of the second book and finally in the section of the Mexicans in BookX, chapter XXIX, paragraph 14. As far as Magliabechi and Tudela are concerned, the same gods appear and the only problem is the glosses of the books that present differences.

Finally, Durán is practically not interested in the gods of pulque, so he hardly mentions them.

Returning to the section on the relationship of the ministers, the Umetochtli were responsible for the songs in all the temples, which associates Dos Conej with the sacred songs, but it is also very important the gods that appear in Sahagún's lists as gods of pulque and that are celebrated in the festivity of Tepehíhuitl.

Although it is true that in these lists Tepoztécatl does not appear explicitly as one of the priests who perform festivals to this divinity in this list, it is worth noting that in the most complete list of pulque gods, in appendix XVI of the first book, 7 appear in the list of the priests of Tepehíuitl, and one of them is repeated several times, Patécatl.

The next point is to understand the nature of the feast of Tepehíhuitl and what was its relationship with the deities of the Pulque. Both Sahagún and Durán make long sections where they explain the nature of this feast, and both writings show great similarity.

The third tenth month was called tepeílhuitl. In this month they made feast ahonra of the eminent mountains that are in all these regions of this New Spain, where they build clouds. They made images in the human figures to each one of them of the mass that is called tzoal, and they offered in front of these images in respect of these same mountains. Tepeílhuitl

In honor of the mountains, they made some snakes of sticks or tree roots, and they carved their heads like snakes; they also made some long pieces of sticks and bones like dolls; they called them ecatotonti. They also made long, doll-shaped pieces of palangroons; they called them ecatotonti. Both these and the snakes were invested with that dough called tzoal; these pieces were invested in the manner of mountains, and their heads were placed on top like the head of a person. They also made these images in memory of those who had drowned in the water, or had died a death that they did not burn, but buried (Sahagún, Book Two, Chapter XIII).

In this way, the hills that bring rain to the valley are celebrated using amaranth sculptures, which are associated with these hills by a process of magic by analogy. Duran's description is very similar:

"7. This hill was formerly revered by the natives as the most important hill of all hills (Popocatepetl); especially for all those who lived around it and on its slopes.
Which land, certainly, as well in temperate as in all that can be desired, is the best of the earth, and thus, with its rough and broken hills and rough land, the hills and ravines are very populated with people, and always have been, by the rich waters that destevolcán comes out and by the great fertility is Corn around it is caught, and fruits of Castile, which, the more they come to him, the earlier and tastier are given, not forgetting the beautiful and abundant wheat that in their high and slopes is caught. For this reason, the indigenous people had more devotion to him and honored him more, making very ordinary and continuous sacrifices and offerings, without the particular feast that they made every year, which was called Tepeihuitl, which means "feast of hills". This feast was in the manner that I will relate here:
8. It should be known that on the solemn day of the veneration of this hill, all the multitude of the people who lived in the land were busy grinding seeds of corn and corn, and from that dough, they made a hill, which represented the volcano. To which they put its eyes and mouth and placed it in a prominent place in the house, and around it, they put many other little pigs of the same mass of tzoalli; with his eyes and his mouth, which all had their names, which were the one Tlaloc, and the other, Chicomecóatl, and Itztac Tépetl and amtlalcueye and justly to Chalchitlicueye, who was the goddess of the rivers and fountains that came out of this volcano, and to Cihuacóatl. " (Duran 2006, I: 164-165)

The nature of this cult is extensively described by Durán

18. The main intent of reverence to these and to make prayers and prayers on them was not the ultimate objective to make them to the hill, neither the hill, nor are we to understand that they did not consider them as gods, nor did they worship them as such. the hill to the all-powerful and the lord of the and lord of the servant and the lord for whom they lived.

Thus, this cult, on the one hand, can be considered a concept that forms part of the "Mesoamerican Hard Core"; it is the hill that by its nature is the pillar of the world, the point where the telluric forces and the celestial forces can be in contact and form the sacred time and space. Likewise, it is the cosmic tree, the center of the world, where the cardinal directions are born and the celestial vault expands. But let us not forget that terms such as "powerful Lord", "Lord of the bred" and "Lord by whom they lived" are the terms used to refer to the main deity of the Mesoamerican pantheon. But, how is it possible that in a ritual that seems to be rural and of the petition of rains, mention of such epithets can be made, because it is more than evident that it is associated with Tlaloc:

"8. Around him (God Tlaloc in his temple) there were a number of small idols, which had him in their midst, as their chief lord, and these idols signified all the other hills and ravines that this great hill had around it. All of them had their names, according to the hill they represented; which names are still in use today, because there is no hill that does not have their name, and so the same names had those idolillos that were around the great idol Tlaloc, accompanying him, like the other hills that accompanied the mountain range. "Durán 2006: 82
They also offered to these images wine or uctli or pulque, which is the wine of the earth, and the vessels in which they offered it were like this. There are some smooth, round, freckled gourds, between green and white or stained, which they call tzilacayutli, which are as big as a large melon; each one of these they split in half and took out what was inside and it was like a cup, and they filled it with the said wine, and they put them in front of that image or images, and they said that those were vessels of precious stones that they call chalchíuitl. All these things were done by the satraps who were experienced or were designated for these sacrifices. The other people did not use to do this, even if it was for their house." (Sahagún Book One Chapter XXI)

Chapter XXI. Which speaks of many imaginary gods, whom all called tlaloques

To all the eminent mountains, especially where clouds are made to rain, they imagined that they were gods, and to each one of them they made their image, according to the imagination they had of them...] he made their figure of a mass that he called tzoalli, and he put them in the figure of persons; he did not do it by his own hands, because it was not licit to him, but he begged the satraps, who were experienced in this and for this purpose, to make these images to whom he had made a vow.

Those who made them put pumpkin seed teeth on them, and instead of eyes they put black beans that are as big as lima beans, although not the same size, and they call them ayecutli; in the other adornments, they put them according to the image with which they imagine and paint them: the God of the wind as Quetzalcoatl, the water as the goddess of water, the rain as the God of rain, and the other mounts according to the images with which they paint them. After these images were made, they offered them the paper of what they made, and it was that a sheet of paper they poured many drops of the gum called ulli, melted; once this was done, they hung the paper around the neck of the image so that it covered it from the breasts down, and with the bottom edge of the paper they plowed the paper. They also placed these same papers dripped with ulli and hung on strings in front of the images themselves so that the papers were attached, and the air waved them because the strings on which they were hung were tied to the tips of some barales or staffs that were driven into the ground, and from the tip of one to the tip of the other was tied the string or mécatl.

In terms of iconography, we can observe that both Tepoztécatl and the rest of the pulque deities present a complex headdress that is composed of several elements. The great majority of the deities wear a paper headdress with a folded bow that protrudes from the back of the head.

In addition to this bun, there is a band that passes over the forehead (in the case of Tepoztécatl it is made of quetzal feathers) and from which protrudes what appear to be occasional gold beads. In the center of the headdress, he wears what seems to be a gold bow; above it, there is a conical structure from which a feather headdress comes out, very similar to the cap of modern chinelos, by the way).

This headdress with a paper bow and a truncated cone is worn by the rain deities, such as Tlaloc himself, in the Magliabechi and Borbonic codices, as well as by the sculpture of Ometochtli from Poza Larga, Papantla Veracruz, and by the goddess Chalchitlicue, both in the Magliabechi and Borbonic codices and in the clay sculpture found in the National Museum of Anthropology.

Nappatecuhtli also carries it both in the Borbonico codex and in the clay sculpture companion of Chalchitlicue. In addition to this headdress appearing on Tepoztécatl in the Magliabechi and Tudela codices, it is also found on the side of the stela of the Cuauhnáhuac Museum where Tepoztécatl appears and was on the sidewalk of the temple of Tepoztécatl as seen in the drawings of Eduard Seler.

Finally, the very layout of the Sanctuary of Tepoztecatl corresponds to the temples associated with Tlaloc in places such as the Tlaloc hill itself or the sanctuary of Zacatepetl and the Cerro de Moctezuma in the Basin of Mexico. In this way, Tepoztécatl himself in his attire carries many elements that turn him into a split not only of Ometochtli, but also of Tlaloc, in the same way, that the god Patécatlad besides being a god of Pulque and therefore an Ometochtli, has clear elements that link him with Quetzalcóatl, and he is also celebrated in the twenty of Tepehíhuitl together with Tlaloc.

The last evidence that can be contributed to this argument is that according to Duran the twenty days of Tepehíhuitl were celebrated sometime in August and being as its name indicates, a celebration of twenty days, it is very probable that the celebration continued for the beginning of September, which would explain why Tepoztlán has as its patron saint the Virgin of the Nativity that is celebrated on September 8 and that also celebrates the conversion of Tepoztécatl to Christianity.

Thus, in the twenty Tepehíuitl the hills are being celebrated as pillars of the world, as givers of rain, as representations of Tláloc and his helpers, the Tlaloques; but Sahagún's description of the festivity is also associated with the pulque gods and, to complicate the picture, the epithets to the divinity correspond to those of the maximum deity.

Although the evidence is very little, it is considered as a hypothesis to be demonstrated later, that this cult to the hills is a remembrance to Nappantecuhtli, not as the creator of the mats, but as the deity of rain that was the Tlaloc of the four directions, lord of the time and the year, and bearer of the lightning. The main deity in Teotihuacan -as it is seen in the Tepantitla Mural- and that in Xochicalco shared its importance with Quetzalcoatl and that as a consequence of the religious crises of the Epiclassic and Postclassic ended relegated to an agricultural deity, although with enough importance to share the main temple with the solar deities of the Middle and Late Postclassic.

If this is true, then Tepoztecatl is not only an invocation of Ometochtli but also has elements associated with the cult of Tlaloc as one of the rain-generating deities, especially for the valleys of Morelos. Now, how can we establish this link with the available information? Especially because Sahagún explicitly mentions the existence of an Umetochtli Tepuztécatl, in charge of performing the rituals of the pulque god in the Tepehíuitl valley. Fortunately, there are enough archaeological elements that allow us to establish a direct relationship between Tepoztécatl and Tláloc.

Author: Jaime F. Reséndiz Machón, Source: El Tlacuache, The INAH Morelos Center community's publication No.791.