#3 from General History of the Things of New Spain
(The Florentine Codex)
(Bernardino de Sahagun, c. 1565)

The Festival in the Month of Tóxcatl

This festival was the most important of all the festivals. It was like Easter, and it occurred near the feast of Resurrection, a few days later. This young man, raised as has been said [with all luxuries, for a year], had a very good appearance [with no flaw on his body] and was chosen from among many. He had long hair down to his waist. When in this festival they killed the young man who had been prepared for this, then they set another apart, who would die within a year. He would go through all the town adorned with flowers in his hand and with persons who accompanied him. He would greet all of those whom he met graciously. All knew that that one was the image of Tezcatlipoca and they prostrated themselves before him and worshipped him wherever they encountered him. Twenty days before this festival, they would give this young man four very attractive young women, who had been raised for this, with whom he would have carnal intercourse for all the twenty days. They would change his dress when they gave him these girls. They would cut his hair like a captain, and they would give him other more beautiful garments. Five days before he died, they would give him festivals and banquets in fresh and delightful places. Many important people would accompany him. When the day arrived on which he would die, they would take him to a cu, or a place of prayer, that they called Tlacochcalco, and before they arrived there, in a place that they called Tlapitzoayan, the women separated themselves from him and left him. When they arrived at the place where they would kill him, he himself went up the steps and on each one of them, tore into pieces one of the flutes he had been playing all year. When he arrived at the top, they threw him on the block. They took out his heart and they took the body down in palms. Below, they cut off his head and attached it to a pole that they called Tzompantli. Many other ceremonies took place during this festival….


The Sun, the Moon, and the Binding of the Years

 . . .It is told that when yet [all] was in darkness, when yet no sun had shone and no dawn had broken—it is said—the gods gathered themselves together and took counsel among themselves there at Teotihuacan. They spoke; they said among themselves:

“Come hither, O gods! Who will carry the burden? Who will take it upon himself to be the sun, to bring the dawn?”

And upon this, one of them who was there spoke: Tecuciztecatl presented himself. He said: “O gods, I shall be the one.”

And again the gods spoke: “[And] who else?”
Thereupon they looked around at one another. They pondered the matter. They said to one another: “How may this be? How may we decide?”

None dared; no one else came forward. Everyone was afraid; they [all] drew back.
And not present was one man, Nanauatzin; he stood there listening among the others to that which was discussed. Then the gods called to this one. They said to him: “Thou shalt be the one, O Nanauatzin.”

He then eagerly accepted the decision; he took it gladly. He said: “It is well. O gods; you have been good to me.”

Then they began now to do penance. They fasted four days—both Tecuciztecatl [and Nanauatzin]. And then, also, at this time, the fire was laid. Now it burned, there in the hearth. They named the hearth teotexcalli.

And this Tecuciztecatl: that with which he did penance was all costly. His fir branches [were] quetzal feathers, and his grass balls [were] of gold; his maguey spines [were] of green stone; the reddened, bloodied spines [were] of coral. And his incense was very good incense. And [as for] Nanauatzin, his fir branches were made only of green water rushes—green reeds bound in threes, all [making], together, nine bundles. And his grass balls [were] only aromatic weeds. And his maguey spines were these same maguey spines. And the blood with which they were covered [was] his own blood. And [for] his incense, he used only the scabs from his sores, [which] he lifted up. For these two, for each one singly, a hill was made. There they remained, performing penances for four nights. They are now called pyramids—the pyramid of the sun and the pyramid of the moon.

And when they ended their four nights of penitence, then they went to throw down and cast away, each one, their fir branches, and, indeed, all with which they had been performing penances. This was done at the time of the lifting [of the penance]; when, well into the night, they were to do their labor; they were to become gods.

And when midnight had come, thereupon [the gods] gave them their adornment; they arrayed them and readied them. To Tecuciztecatl they gave his round, forked heron feather headdress and his sleeveless jacket. But [as for] Nanauatzin, they bound on his headdress of mere paper and tied on his hair, called his paper hair. And [they gave him] his paper stole and his paper breech clout.

And when this was done, when midnight had come, all the gods proceeded to encircle the hearth, which was called teotexcalli, where for four days had burned the fire. On both sides [the gods] arranged themselves in line, and in the middle they set up, standing, these two, named Tecuciztecatl and Nanauatzin. They stood facing and looking toward the hearth.

And thereupon the gods spoke: They said to Tecuciztecatl: “Take courage, O Tecuciztecatl; fall—cast thyself—into the fire!”

Upon this, he went [forward] to cast himself into the flames. And when the heat came to reach him, it was insufferable, intolerable, and unbearable; for the hearth had blazed up exceedingly, a great heap of coals burned, and the flames flared up high. Thus he went terrified, stopped in fear, turned about, and went back. Then once more he set out, in order to try to do it. He exerted himself to the full, that he might cast and give himself to the flames. And he could in no way dare to do it. When again the heat reached him, he could only turn and leap back. He could not bear it. Four times indeed—four times in all—he was thus to act and try; then no more could he could cast himself into the fire. For then [he might try] only four times.

And when he had ended [trying] four times, thereupon they cried out to Nanauatzin. The gods said to him: “Onward, thou, O Nanauatzin! Take heart!”

And Nanauatzin, daring all at once, determined—resolved—hardened his heart, and shut firmly his eyes. He had no fear; he did not stop short; he did not falter in fright; he did not turn back. All at once he quickly threw and cast himself into the fire; once and for all he went. Thereupon he burned; his body crackled and sizzled.

And when Tecaciztecatl saw that already he burned, then, afterwards, he cast himself upon [the fire]. Thereupon he also burned.. . .

. . .And after this, when both had cast themselves into the flames, when they had already burned, then the gods sat waiting [to see] where Nanauatzin would come to rise—he who first fell into the fire—in order that he might shine [as the sun]; in order that dawn might break.

When the gods had sat and been waiting for a long time, thereupon began the reddening [of the dawn]; in all directions, all around, the dawn and light extended. And so, they say, thereupon the gods fell upon their knees in order to await where he who had become the sun would come to rise. . . .

. . .And when the sun came to rise, when he burst forth, he appeared to be red; he kept swaying from side to side. It was impossible to look into his face; he blinded one with his light. Intensely did he shine. He issued rays of light from himself; his rays reached in all directions; his brilliant rays penetrated everywhere.

And afterwards Tecuciztecatl came to rise, following behind him from the same place—the east.—near where the sun had come bursting forth. In the same manner that they had fallen into the fire, just so they came forth. They came following each other.

And so they tell it; [so] they relate the story and repeat the legend: Exactly equal had they become in their appearance, as they shone. When the gods saw them, [thus] exactly the same in their aspect, then once more there was deliberation. They said: “How may this be, O gods? Will they perchance both together follow the same path? Will they both shine together?”

And the gods all issued a judgment. They said: “Thus will this be; thus will this be done.”

Then one of the gods came our running. With a rabbit he came to wound in the face this Tecucizetecatl; with is he darkened his face; he killed its brilliance. Thus doth it [the moon] appear today.

And when this was done, when both appeared [over the earth] together, they could, on the other hand, not move nor follow their paths. They could only remain still and motionless. So once again the gods spoke: “How shall we live? The sun cannot move. Shall we perchance live among common folk? [Let] this be, that through us the sun may be revived. Let all of us die.”

[#3] Bernardino de Sahagún, Historia General de las Cosas de Nueva España, “The Festival in the Month of Tóxcatl,” vol. 1 (Mexico, DF: Editorial Pedro Robredo, 1938, pp. 990-91), tr. Carolyn Morrow; “Book 7: The Sun, Moon, and Stars, and the Binding of the Years,” Florentine Codex: General History of the Things of New Spain, tr. Arthur J. O .Anderson and Charles E. Dibble. Part VIII. (Santa Fe, NM: The School of American Research and The University of Utah, 1953), pp. 3-9.

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