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  • Elizabeth H. Boone (a1)
    • Published online: 01 July 1999

The colossal “Coatlicue” sculpture has usually been interpreted as a representation of the female supernatural Coatlicue (Serpents Her Skirt) who gave birth to the Mexica patron deity Huitzilopochtli, or it has been identified as the cult figure of Cihuacoatl (Woman Serpent) or Tlaltecuhtli (Earth Lord). This paper offers an alternative reading of the monumental statue, one that recognizes the existence of at least three nearly identical “Coatlicues” and thus recontextualizes the monument as one of a larger set. The iconography of these great stone females points to their identity as Tzitzimime, celestial demons who were understood to descend to devour humankind if the sun were to fail. According to the Mexican chroniclers, a cadre of these fearsome monoliths dominated the sculpture progam of the Templo Mayor.

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Ancient Mesoamerica
  • ISSN: 0956-5361
  • EISSN: 1469-1787
  • URL: /core/journals/ancient-mesoamerica
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