Primary Sources

Coatlicue Florentine page 420.png

Huitzilopochtli is born from Coatlicue in full armor.

(Source: Florentine Codex, 420)

       Coatlicue plays a prominent role in the Aztec and Mexica mythology, as recounted by Bernardino de Sahagún in the Florentine Codex. Coatlicue was sweeping a sacred temple atop the mountain Coatepec, which translates to Serpent Mountain. Coatlicue picks up a Hummingbird feather and becomes pregnant with Huitzilopochtli -- god of the sun and war. Coatlicue's other children, Coyolxauhqui and 400 male deities, became incredibly jealous and attacked her. Unexpectedly, Huitzilopochtli is born in full armor and defends his mother, killing all his siblings, and throwing Coyolxauhqui down the temple steps. (Her demise is depicted in another important Aztec stone sculpture, housed in Mexico’s Templo Mayor). Coyolxauhqui became the moon and her siblings became the stars; however, Coatlicue’s fate after this episode is unknown. (1) Some scholars hypothesize Aztec mythology included an episode in which Coatlicue was sacrificed or killed. Snakes can be a symbol of blood; hence, the snakes emerging from her head could symbolize beheading. (2)

       As mentioned in the Iconography tab, Coatlicue and Cihuacoatl are closely related within the Mexica pantheon. Sahagun groups both under “The greatest goddesses who are worshiped as idols, whom the natives falsely revered as gods” (3) Supporting the proximity of these deities, Fray Diego Durán writes “The deity Cihuacoatl was called the sister of Huitzilopochtli” (4). While Coatlicue’s name is hugely significant in the narratives of Mexica mythology, Cihuacoatl’s name carries gravity within the Mexica social structure. Cihuacoatl was the “chief of internal affairs” and “governed the city.” The esteem of this rank insinuates Cihuacoatl was held in high regard, similar to Coatlicue. Furthermore, “a man dressed as the deity Cihuacoatl (perhaps the Cihuacoatl himself) appeared in major festivals of the Aztec calendar devoted to the earth and vegetation” (5). This is also recounted in Duran’s writing... [QUOTE] (6)



  1. Sahagun, Florentine Codex, 420
  2. McDonald, Colossal Stone Statue of Coatlicue
  3. Sahagun, Florentine Codex (Dibble Translation), 3
  4. Durán, Book of Gods and Rites, 217
  5. Townsend, The Aztecs, 204
  6. Durán, Book of Gods and Rites, 25