We’re privileged to share this link with our readers. Mexicolore, a serious organization out of the UK, publishes an amazing amount of information on Aztekas and Mayas in formats friendly to anyone: teacher, student, curiosity-seeker. In search of a source for myth, we found Mexicolore beyond adequate. Our thanks to Mexicolore for permission to provide our readers a copy of “The Origin of the People,” a well-researched and authentic version of this Mesoamerican Keystone. Read it here with some pictures from the Mexicolore original, and/or click the link above to see all that they have to offer.
Enjoy and Make Art.
The Origin of People
Part of the Mesoamerican myth of the creation of the Fifth Sun (world era) in which we live today; here is the story of the origin of people, based on one (the Leyenda de los Soles) of the different colonial versions written down after the Conquest. Taken from The Aztecs by Michael E. Smith (2nd. edn., Blackwell Publishing, 2003)…
The creation of the fifth sun, the current age, fell to Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca (top picture). In one version of this myth, the two gods found the earth completely covered with water from the flood that ended the fourth sun. The giant earth monster Tlaltecuhtli (‘Earth Lord’ – pic 1), a crocodile-like creature, swam in the sea searching for flesh to eat. The gods turned themselves into serpents, entered the sea, and tore Tlaltecuhtli in half. The upper part of her body became the land, and the lower part was thrown into the sky to become the stars and heavens. Plants and animals grow from the back of Tlaltecuhtli and rivers pour from her body.
With the land and sky in place, the gods were ready to create people. They sent Quetzalcoatl to the underworld, Mictlan (‘Place of the Dead’), to retrieve the bones of the people of the fourth sun:-
And then Quetzalcoatl went to Mictlan. He approached Mictlantecuhtli (pic 2) and Mictlancihuatl [Lord and Lady of the Underworld]; at once he spoke to them:
’I come in search of the precious bones in your possession. I have come for them.’
And Mictlantecuhtli asked of him, ‘What shall you do with them, Quetzalcoatl?’
And once again Quetzalcoatl said, ‘The gods are anxious that someone should inhabit the earth.’
And Mictlantecuhtli replied, ‘Very well, sound my shell horn and go around my circular realm four times.’
But his shell horn had no holes.
The false conch horn was the first of several tricks that Mictlantecuhtli used to block Quetzalcoatl’s mission. Quetzalcoatl called upon worms to drill a hole in the shell, and bees to make the horn (pic 3) play. When Mictlantecuhtli heard the horn, he at first allowed Quetzalcoatl to gather the bones, but later changed his mind. His helper spirits dug a hole, and a quail appeared and startled Quetzalcoatl, who tripped and lost consciousness. The bones were scattered and broken, and the quail chewed on them. Quetzalcoatl finally rose, gathered up the bones, and escaped from Mictlan.
Quetzalcoatl carried the bones to Tamoanchan, a place of paradise. The old goddess Cihuacoatl (‘Woman Serpent’ – pic 4) ground them on the metate [grinding stone] and placed the powder in a jade bowl. Quetzalcoatl and the other gods gathered around and shed their blood upon the ground bones, and the first people of the fifth sun were made.
Infinitas gracias to Mexicolore, once again. We look forward to sharing more of your fine work.