#1 from Codex Chimalpopoca (1570)

The Death of Quetzalcoatl

According to what they tell and what they say, this was when Quetzalcoatl was born, called Topiltzin Priest Ce Acatl Quetzalcoatl, and his mother they say was named Chimalman. And from what they say about him, Quetzalcoatl was placed in his mother’s belly when they say about him, Quetzalcoatl was placed in his mother’s belly when she swallowed a piece of jade.

It was in 2 Reed that Topiltzin, or Ce Acatl Quetzalcoatl, built his house of fasting, his place of penance, his place of prayer. Four in number were the houses that he built: his turquoise house of beams, his house of redshell, his house of whiteshell, his house of quetzal plumes. There he prayed, did penance, and kept his fast.

And just at midnight he would go to the water, to the place called Water Shrine, or At-the-Water-Weed.

And he punctured himself with thorns on top of Xicocotl and Huitzco and Tzincoc and Mount Nonoalco. And he made his thorns of jade and his needles of quetzal plumes. And for incense he burned turquoise, jade, and redshell. And the blood offering that he sacrificed were snakes, birds, and butterflies.

Now, it is told and related that it was to heaven that he prayed, that he worshipped. And the ones he called out to were Citlalinicue, Citlalatonac, Tonacacihuatl, Tonacateuctli, Tecolliquenqui, Eztlaquenqui, Tlallamanac, Tlalichcatl.

Well, it is told and related that many times during the life of Quetzalcoatl, sorcerers tried to ridicule him into making the human payment, into taking human lives. But he always refused. He did not consent, because he greatly loved his subjects, who were Toltecs. Snakes, birds, and butterflies that he killed were what his sacrifices always were.

And it is told and related that with this he wore out the sorcerers’ patience. So it was then that they started to ridicule him and make fun of him, the sorcerers saying they wanted to torment Quetzalcoatl and make him run away.

And it became true. It happened.

I Reed [895] was the year Quetzalcoatl died. And it is said that he went to Tlillan Tlapallan in order to die there.

Afterward, a certain Matlacxchitl was inaugurated as ruler, became ruler of Tollan.

Then they tell how Quetzalcoatl departed. It was when he refused to obey the sorcerers about making the human payment, about sacrificing humans. Then the sorcerers deliberated among themselves, they whose name were Tezcatlipoca, Ihuimacatl, and Toltecatl. They said, “He must leave his city. We shall live there.”

“Let us brew pulque,” they said. “We’ll have him drink it and make him lose his judgment, so that he no longer performs his sacraments.”

Then Tezcatlipoca said, “Myself, I say we should give him a way to see his flesh.”

They agreed that they would do it.

Then Tezcatlipoca went first. He took a two-sided mirror, a span wide, wrapped it up. And when he had come to where Quetzalcoatl was, he said to the pages who were guarding him, “Announce to the priest: A young man has come to show you, come to present you, your flesh.”

The pages went inside and repeated it to Quetzalcoatl, who said, “What’s that, grandfather page? What’s my ‘flesh’?” Take a look at what he’s brought, and then he may come in.”

But he refused to let him see it. “I must show it to the priest myself,” he said. “Go tell him that.”

They went and told him: “He refuses, and he very much wants to show it to you.”

“Let him come grandfather,” said Quetzalcoatl.

They went and called Tezcatlipoca. He entered, greeting him. He said, “My child, Priest Ce Acatl, Quetzalcoatl, I greet you. And I’ve come to show you your flesh.”

“You’ve wearied yourself, grandfather,” said Quetzalcoatl. “Where do you come from? What is this ‘flesh’ of mine? Let me see it.”

“My child, O priest, I, your servant, have come from the foot of Mount Nonoalco. May it please you to see your flesh.”

Then he gave him the mirror and said, “Know yourself, see yourself, my child, for you will appear in the mirror.”

Then Quetzalcoatl looked and was terrified. “If my subjects saw me,” he said, “they might run away.” For his eyelids were bulging, his eye sockets deeply sunken, his face pouchy all over―he was monstrous.

When he had looked in the mirror, he said, “My subjects are never to see me. I must stay right here.”

Then Tezcatlipoca left him and came away. And in order to make fun of him he consulted with Ihuimecatl.

Ihuimecatl said, “Let the featherworker Coyotlinahual be the one to go.”

They repeated it to him, that he was to go. “Very well,” said the featherworker Coyotlinahual, “I’ll go see Quetzalcoatl.” And so he went.

He said to Quetzalcoatl, My child, I say you must go out. Let your subjects see you. And for them to see you, let me dress you up.”

He said, “Grandfather, do it! I’d like to see it.”

And so he did it, this featherworker, this Coyotlinahual. First he made Quetzalcoatl’s head fan. Then he fashioned his turquoise mask, taking yellow to make the front, red to color the bill. Then he gave him his serpent teeth and made him his beard, covering him below with cotinga and roseate spoonbill feathers.

When he had prepared it―the way the attire of Quetzalcoatl used to be―he gave him the mirror.

Seeing himself, Quetzalcoatl was well pleased. At that very moment he went out from the place where he was being guarded.

Then Coyotlinahual, the featherworker, went to Ihuimecatl and said, “I have brought Quetzalcoatl out. Now go!”

“Very well,” he said. Then he befriended a certain Toltecatl, and when they were ready to go, they set off together.

Then they came to Xonacapacoyan and lodged with the man who worked the fields there, Maxtlaton, the keeper of Toltecatepec. Then they also stewed greens, tomatoes, chilis, fresh corn, and beans. And it was all done in just a few days.

There were also magueys there, which they requested from maxtla. In just four days they made them into pulque, then they decanted it. They were the ones who discovered the little hives of tree honey, and it was with this that they decanted the pulque.

Then they went to Tollan, to the house of Quetzalcoatl, bringing all their greens, their chilis, and so forth. Also the pulque. When they got there, they tried to enter, but Quetzalcoatl’s guards would not let them. Twice, three times they turned them away. They were not admitted. Finally they were asked where their home was.

“Over at Tlamacazcatepec, at Toltecatepec,” they replied.

Hearing them, Quetzalcoatl said, “Let them come in.”

They went in.

Well, they greeted him, and at last they gave him the greens, etc. And when he had eaten of it, they urged him once again, giving him the pulque.

But he said, “No I mustn’t drink it. I’m fasting. Is it intoxicating? Or fatal?”

“Taste it with your finger,” they told him. “It’s piquant.”

Quetzalcoatl tasted it with his finger. Finding it good, he said, “Let me drink grandfather.” And when he had drunk one draught, the sorcerers said to him, “You’ll drink four.” And so they gave him a fifth draught, saying, “This is your portion.”

Well, when he had drunk it, then they served all his pages, and they drank five draughts apiece.

When the sorcerers had gotten them completely drunk, they said to Quetzalcoatl, “My child, may it please you to sing, and here’s a song for you to recite.” Then Ihuimecatl recited it for him:

I must leave my house of quetzal, of quetzal, my house of troupial, my house of redshell.

When he had gotten into a happy mood, he said, “Go get my sister Quetzalpetlatl. Let the two of us be drunk together.”

His pages went to Mount Nonoalco, where she was doing penance, and said, “My child, lady, Quetzalpetlatl, O fasting one, we’ve come to get you. Priest Quetzalcoatl is waiting for you. You’re to go be with him.”

She said, “All right, let’s go, grandfather page.” And when she got there, she sat down beside Quetzalcoatl. Then they served her the pulque. Four draughts and one more, a fifth, were poured for her.

And when Yhuimecatl and Toltecatl had made everyone drunk, they presented a song to Quetzalcoatl’s sister. They recited it for her:

My sister, where are you? Q Quetzalpetlatl, lets be drunk, aýya ýya ynye an.

Having made themselves drunk, they no longer said, “Let us do penance.” No longer did they go down to the water. From then on they did nothing at daybreak.

Well, when dawn came, they were filled with sadness, their hearts were troubled. And Quetzalcoatl said, “Alas for me!” And then he sang a lament, composing a song about how he would have to go away. Then he sang it aloud:

Never a portion counted in my house. Let it be here, ah, let it be here, here. Alas. May the realm endure. Alas. There’s only misery and servitude. Never will I recover.

He sang aloud the second stanza of his song:

Ah, she used to carry me, alas, my mother, ah, Coacueye, the goddess, the noble one. I am weeping, ah.

When Quetzalcoatl had sung, then all his pages were saddened. They wept. And they, too, sang, saying:

They made us rich, our lords, and he, Quetzalcoatl, who shinedlike a jade. Broken are the timbers, his house of penance. Wouldthat we might see him. Let us weep.

And when Quetzalcoatl’s pages had sung, he said to them, “Grandfather page, enough! I must leave this city. I must go away. Give the command. Have them make a stone chest.”

Then quickly a stone chest was carved. And when they had carved it and it was finished, they laid Quetzalcoatl in it.

But he lay only for four days in the stone chest. When he felt discomfort, he said to his pages, “Enough, grandfather page! Let’s go. Everywhere conceal and hide what we once discovered, the joy, the riches, all our property, our possessions. And his pages did so. They hid it where Quetzalcoatl’s bathing place was, at the place called water shrine, At-the-Water-Weed.

Then Quetzalcoatl departed. He got up, called together his pages, and wept over them. Then they set out, heading for Tlillan, Tlapallan, Tlatlayan.

And he went looking everywhere, exploring. Nowhere was he satisfied. And when he reached the place he had been heading for, again he wept and was sad.

Now, this year, 1 Reed, is when he got to the ocean, the seashore, so it is told and related. Then he halted and wept and gathered up his attire, putting on his head fan, his turquoise mask, and so forth. And as soon as he was dressed, he set himself on fire and cremated himself. And so the place where Quetzalcoatl was cremated is named Tlatlayan (land of burning).

And they say as he burned, his ashes arose. And what appeared and what they saw were all the precious birds, rising into the sky. They saw roseate spoonbills, cotingas, trogons, herons, green parrots, scarlet macaws, white-fronted parrots, and all the other precious birds.

And as soon as his ashes had been consumed, they saw the heart of a Quetzal rising upward. And so they knew he had gone to the sky, had entered the sky.

The old people said he was changed into the star that appears at dawn. Therefore they say it came forth when Quetzalcoatl died, and the called him Lord of the Dawn.

What they said is that when he died he disappeared for four days. They said he went to the dead land then. And he spent four more days making darts for himself. So it was after eight days that the morning star came our, which they said was Quetzalcoatl. It was then that he became lord, they said.

And so, when he goes forth, they know on what day sign he casts light on certain people, venting his anger against them, shooting them with darts. If he goes on 1 alligator, he shoots old men and old women, all alike.

If on 1 Jaguar or 1 Deer or 1 Flower, he shoots little children. And if on 1 Reed, he shoots nobles. The same with everybody, if on 1 Death

And if on 1 Rain, he shoots the rain. No rain will fall.
And if on 1 movement, he shoots youths and maidens.
And if on 1 Water, there is drought, etc.
So these [day signs] was venerated by the old men and the old women of former times.

As for the one called Quetzalcoatl, his entire lifetime was such that he was born in 1 Reed and also died in 1 Reed, so that his life was counted altogether as fifty-two years.

So, it is finished in the year 1 Reed [895]. 

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#1 from Codex Chimalpopoca (1570)

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