The first temple to the god of the skinning found in Mexico


A group of archaeologists from Mexico discovered for the first time a temple dedicated to Xipe Tótec, an important pre-Hispanic god who was engaged in rituals of human skinning, reported the National Institute of Anthropology and History.

A sculpture of Xipe Totec, a pre-Hispanic deity, apparently wore the skin of a sacrificed victim
A sculpture of Xipe Totec, a pre-Hispanic deity, apparently wore the skin of a sacrificed victim

"Xipe Tótec ('our lord the flayed') was one of the most important gods of the pre-Hispanic era, his influence (...) was recognized by many cultures of the West, Central and Gulf of Mexico, however, he had never found a temple directly associated with their cult, "says a statement from INAH.

The enclosure of 12 meters long by 3.5 meters high is composed of two sacrificial altars, three sculptures in volcanic stone and various architectural elements located in a pyramidal basement of the Archaeological Zone of Ndachjian-Tehuacán, in the state of Puebla.

The popolocas built the temple in the area between 1000 and 1260 AD. and later they were conquered by the Aztecs.

The experts found two stone sculptures in the shape of a skull and one of a torso that represent Xipe Tótec. An extra hand was hanging from one arm, which suggests that the god wore the skin of a sacrificed victim.

The priests honored Xipe Totec by skinning their victims and then dressing their skins, a ritual that was considered a way to ensure fertility and regeneration.

One of the most important festivals of ancient Mexico was the Tlacaxipehualiztli, which in Nahuatl means "to put on the skin of the skinned one".

It was commonly carried out on two circular altars: one to sacrifice the captives by gladiatorial or flechantial combat; and another for the skinning of glorification to Xipe Tótec.

In this process, the priests were dressed with the individual's skin, which was then deposited in small holes.

This "weighs the importance" of the finding of "both sacrificial altars in the pyramidal base, and even two holes in the ground (in front of the altars) that were filled with earth -in the manner of a closure-, and that were below the stone skulls, "said INAH.

In the temple, the sculpture of the torso of Xipe Tótec is "killed", that is to say ritually fragmented, and "it has a hole in the belly that was used, according to the sources, to place a green stone and 'endow them with life' for ceremonies, "explains INAH.

It is expected that the sculptures, along with other materials of ceramics and obsidian collected, can be studied in depth to investigate their antiquity, composition and manufacture, and then incorporate them into the route of the Site Museum of the archaeological zone.