Saturday, November 19, 2011

Xipe Totec

Mysterious Aztec god of agriculture, spring and the seasons, the symbol the death and rebirth of nature. In order to stimulate the growth in both nature and mankind, he flays himself to offer food to humans (such as the maize seed loses its outer skin to enable the shoot to grow). After he has shed his skin, he appears as a shining, golden god.

In his honor, each year in the beginning of spring, people were sacrificed to him. These victims were flayed alive and the priests wore these skins in various rituals. These rituals symbolized the renewal of the earth and the budding of new life.

Xipe Totec is also the god of the west and the patron of goldsmiths. He is thought to be responsible for sending diseases to man, such as the plague, blindness and scabs. He is depicted as a flayed man, covered in (his own) skin and his name means "our lord the flayed one".

From: Here
Xipe Totec, Our Lord the Flayed One.
Xipe Totec is the god of the shedding of skins, God of Seedtime, the elemental force of rebirth. He is associated with rejuvenation and spring time.

Xipe Totec flayed himself to give food to humanity, symbolic of the maize seed losing the outer layer of the seed before germination.

Xipe Totec is the patron of the goldsmiths.
Xipe Totec is also known as the Red Tezcatlipoca, to contrast him to the black Tezcatlipoca.

In the calendar, Xipe Totec is the protector of day Cuauhtli (eagle) and of the trecena that starts with day 1-Itzcuintli (dog).

From: Here
In Aztec mythology and religion, Xipe Totec ("our lord the flayed one") was a life-death-rebirth deity, god of agriculture, vegetation, the east, disease, spring, goldsmiths, silversmiths and the seasons.[1] Xipe Totec was also known by the alternative names Tlatlauhca, Tlatlauhqui Tezcatlipoca ("Red Smoking Mirror") and Youalahuan ("the Night Drinker").[2] The Tlaxcaltecs and the Huexotzincas worshipped a version of the deity under the name of Camaxtli,[3] and the god has been identified with Yopi, a Zapotec god represented on Classic Period urns.[4] The female equivalent of Xipe Totec was the goddess Xilonen-Chicomecoatl.[5]

Xipe Totec flayed himself to give food to humanity, symbolic of the way maize seeds lose their outer layer before germination and of snakes shedding their skin. Without his skin, he was depicted as a golden god. Xipe Totec was believed by the Aztecs to be the god that invented war.[6] He had a temple called Yopico within the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan.[4]

This deity is of uncertain origin. Xipe Totec was widely worshipped in central Mexico at the time of the Spanish Conquest,[4] and was known throughout most of Mesoamerica.[7] Representations of the god have been found as far away as Mayapan in the Yucatán Peninsula.[8] The worship of Xipe Totec was common along the Gulf Coast during the Early Postclassic. The deity probably became an important Aztec god as a result of the Aztec conquest of the Gulf Coast in the middle of the fifteenth century.[4]


Xipe Totec is represented wearing a flayed human skin, usually with the flayed skin of the hands falling loose from the wrists. His body is often painted yellow on one side and tan on the other,[9] although sometimes the body of the god is painted red under the flayed skin.[10] He frequently had vertical stripes running down from his forehead to his chin, running across the eyes.[4] He was sometimes depicted with a yellow shield and carrying a container filled with seeds.[11] It is likely that sculptures of Xipe Totec were ritually dressed in the flayed skin of sacrificial victims.[12]


The worshippers of Xipe Totec emerging from the rotting, flayed skin after twenty days symbolised rebirth and the renewal of the seasons, the casting off of the old and the growth of new vegetation.[13] The living god lay concealed underneath the superficial veneer of death, ready to burst forth like a germinating seed.[14] The deity also had a malevolent side and Xipe Totec was said to afflict mortals with rashes, abscesses and skin and eye infections.[13]

The flayed skins were believed to have curative properties when touched and mothers took their children to touch such skins in order to relieve their ailments.[15] People wishing to be cured made offerings to him at Yopico.[4]

Annual festival

The annual festival of Xipe Totec was celebrated on the spring equinox before the onset of the rainy season, it was known as Tlacaxipehualiztli ("flaying of men in honour of Xipe") and fell in March at the time of the Conquest.[16] Annually, slaves or captives were selected as sacrifices to Xipe Totec.[17] After having the heart cut out, the body was carefully flayed to produce a nearly whole skin which was then worn by the priests for twenty days during the fertility rituals that followed the sacrifice.[17] The skins were often adorned with bright feathers and gold jewellery when worn.[18] The Tlacaxipehualiztli festival both began and culminated with a "gladiator sacrifice" ritual.[19] During the festival, victorious warriors wearing flayed skins carried out mock skirmishes throughout Tenochtitlan, they passed through the city begging alms and blessed whoever gave them food or other offerings.[4] When the twenty day festival was over, the flayed skins were removed and stored in special containers with tight-fitting lids designed to stop the stench of putrefaction from escaping. These containers were then stored in a chamber beneath the temple.[20]

Some accounts indicate that a thigh bone from the sacrifice was defleshed and used by the priest to touch spectators in a fertility blessing. Paintings and several clay figures have been found which illustrate the flaying method and the appearance of priests wearing flayed skins.

From: Wiki (one more section there to read, too)

Who was Xipe Totec?

Xipe Totec was an important symbol of fertility, war and the coming of age of young warriors. The human skin that the god’s impersonator, otherwise known as an ‘ixiptla’ (live image), wore for twenty days during the spring festival of Tlacaxipeualiztli (March), was finally discarded during the period of Tozoztontli Xochimanaloya (April). This was a gesture that signified the shedding of the earth’s dry old skin in exchange for a new, verdant one that the rains would soon let flourish.

Many investigators have commented on the union of agriculture and war within the domain of this flayed deity. In preparation for Tlacaxipeualiztli, foreign warriors were caught alive and prepared for the sacred ritual coined by the 16th century Spanish as ‘Gladiatorial Sacrifice’, of which Xipe was a patron. This display took place outside of Xipe Totec’s temple and involved a warrior being tied to a large round stone by a strong rope. He was given simple weapons and little in the way of protection. According to Sahagún, he was then approached by four richly dressed and armed Aztec fighters who fought with him until he was wounded. Finally, he was sacrificed by having his heart pulled from his body by a priest.

It was in Xipe Totec’s temple that young warriors presented their first victims for sacrifice. This is when they came of age and were allowed to don the regalia of the Aztec military.


Representations of Xipe Totec...

Xipe was almost always depicted as a man that was encapsulated within another’s flayed hide. With stripes running down his face from the forehead to the jawbone in a smooth line, his features classically showed the ‘cut-out’ appearance of the eye, nose and mouth holes of the second skin. He sported a multi coloured headdress and from it dangled tassles that reached down behind his back. His hair was tied back into two plaits. His rights as a god gave him access to special accessories that brimmed in symbolism and uniqueness such as golden ear plugs and rich, green feathers. One very striking belonging of his was a long sceptre that carried flower-like shapes, that Sahagún likened to poppies, all along it. At the top of the staff was an arrow holder.

On his body, Xipe’s fetid, outer skin had visibly lumpy fat deposits forming on it. Seen from the front, it usually showed an incision where the heart of the flayed victim had been taken out, as well as an area where the penis had been. This ornamental skin was elaborately tied together at the back. The Aztecs dressed both stone sculptures and priests acting as representatives of the god, in human flesh. Of course, Xipe Totec appeared mostly naked and some records of him show that he was tinted both yellow and tawny.

For the full article: Mexicolore-- God of the Month: Xipe Totec

Xipe Totec is God of:

Seed Germination
Sprouting Vegetation

Goldworkers, Metalsmiths

Equivalents in Other Cultures:

Yopi, a Zapotec god

From: Here

Also see:
The Story of Xipe Totec

Xipe Totec's Relation to Daily Life and Sacrifice
Xipe Totec's Rattle

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