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Producer of the Living, Eater of the Dead: Revealing Tlaltecuhtli, the Two-Faced Aztec Earth

Lucia Henderson


This work enumerates and discusses the various iconographic elements borne by the two main Aztec (15th and 16th centuries) variants of Tlaltecuhtli (the anthropomorphic version of the Aztec earth) so as to elucidate their meanings and symbolism. It also compiles not only the arguments and sources relevant to studies of Tlaltecuhtli, but also, for the first time, all known published images of the deity. The end result demonstrates that not only were there two main Tlaltecuhtli variants, but that the firstof these was female and the second male. The author focuses specifically on representations of Tlaltecuhtli rather than broader imagery of the earth or of earth goddesses in general. Tlaltecuhtli, the anthropomorphic version of the Aztec earth, was, for the most part, rendered in stone reliefs found in and around the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan