Festival of Xipe Totec

Xipe Totec, Festival of

Among the Aztec Indians of Mexico, Xipe Totec was a god of war. The observance of his festival, also known as Tlacaxipehualiztli, took place in March according to the Gregorian calendar. Xipe Totec was often referred to as "Our Lord the Flayed One" (or, "the Flayer"), and statues and other images of him show the god wearing a human skin.
The Festival of Xipe Totec was an occasion for Aztec warriors to mimic the god. They killed their prisoners of war, often cutting their hearts out, and removed their skins from their bodies. They would then wear these skins for the entire 20-day month and hold mock battles, after which they would discard the now-rotting skins into caves or bury them.
Many scholars have noticed an agricultural metaphor in this practice—likening the wearing of human skin to the process by which a seed grows inside a rotting hull before emerging as a fresh shoot—but more recent scholarship has tended to discredit any connection between Xipe Totec, the donning of skins, and Aztec agricultural rituals.
CelebNature-1969, p. 136
GodsSymbAncMex-1993, p. 188 (c)
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
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