Most scholars, citing a passage in the sixteenth-century Florentine Codex by Bernardino de Sahagún (27), have interpreted the famous Aztec stone statue known as Coatlicue, “Snakes-Her-Skirt,” as a reference to that goddess's role as the mother of the Aztec patron deity Huitzilopochtli. Sahagún's text, however, cannot account for the statue's portrayal of Coatlicue as decapitated and dismembered, the presence of similar statues that appear to have been part of the same set, or the lavish attention the carver paid to her skirt of braided serpents. The statue seems to better match several other sixteenth-century accounts in which, at the creation of the world, Coatlicue and four of her sisters were voluntarily sacrificed in order to put the sun in motion. The women left behind only their mantas, or large rectangular panels of cloth used to make Mexica skirts, from which they eventually were resurrected. The Coatlicue statue may represent this resurrected creatrix, whose sacrifice gave us light and warmth, in the form of her personified skirt.
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Research Article| April 01 2008
A New Interpretation of the Aztec Statue Called Coatlicue, “Snakes-Her-Skirt”
Ethnohistory (2008) 55 (2): 229–250.
Cecelia F. Klein; A New Interpretation of the Aztec Statue Called Coatlicue, “Snakes-Her-Skirt”. Ethnohistory 1 April 2008; 55 (2): 229–250. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-2007-062
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