The Central Deity

The actual identity of the Central Deity in the Aztec Calendar Stone has been subject to much debate.

It has been widely accepted that the central deity is Huitzilopochtli, who represents Tonatiuh, the Aztec Sun God, or Toniatiuh himself.

Flandes, who has interpreted and illustrated possibly the most well known reconstruction of the Aztec Calendar Sun Stone describes the central image, Tonatiuh, as follows:

Tonatiuh's Face, the face of the Sun, Lord of Heaven, around which take place all daily and periodic phenomena. - The crown, nose-pendant, ear-rings and necklace are magnificient, as must be the ornaments characteristic of this deity. - The hair is blonde, due to the golden appearance of the big star. - The wrinkles on the face show age and maturity. And the tongue, stuck outward in the form of an obsidian knife, indicates that the deity demands to be fed with blood and human hearts.

Further, the tongue leads the eye down towards the two serpents. One contains the head of the firegod Xiuhtecuhtli, while the other contains the head of the sungod Tonatiuh.

Most of these interpretations are based on the pioneering work of Eduard Seler and Hermann Beler, who believed that "the Calendar Stone functioned as a graphic symbol of the Postclassic concept of cyclical time and space,"(Klein: 1) and have illustrated this according to such Postclassic interpretations of the Stone.

However, using literary, linguistic and graphic evidence Klein argues that these interpretations of the central deity don't correspond with the supposed cosmological context of the stone, and the consistency of the 'Postclassic mind'(Klein:2). For example, according to Klein, the god Tonatiuh was never presented en face ,nor was he associated with the monstrous claws or protruding tongue as seen on the Calendar Stone.

Writings and paintings from Sahagun reinforce the concept that the central deity was Yohualtecuhtli when he describes the feast day naui ollin:

"And there was the image of that one [the sun] at a pyramid temple called Quauxiallli. There was erected his image, his image was designed as if it had the mask of a man [but] with[the sun's] rays streaming from it. His ornament was round, circled with feathers; surrounded with red spoonbill [feathers]."


Klein also uses astronomical evidence to support the theory that the central deity is actually a solar deity of the night, Yohualtecuhtli. She believes the central image "must be regarded as a representation of the darkened sun and planet Venus at the centre of the earth at the moment of cyclic destruction and completion in which they fused to create the hybrid deity Yohualtecuhtli, the great Aztec 'Lord of the night'. Since Yohualtecuhtli was a god of the earth, darkness, death, and the south and centre of the world, his appearance here in a context of the end of the world at the centre of the earth in the middle of the night is far more logical than would be that of Tonatiuh. More understandable too are the appearance of traits of the female earth monster and the rare utilisation of the frontal form that always inicates cyclic completion in Postclassic Mexico. Recognition of the Aztec Calendar Stone deity as Yohualtecuhtli thus avoids the logical and cosmologiccal discrepancies involved in its identification as Tonatiuh reveals a new level of beauty and profundity in the famous carving"(Klein:12)

The Claws of the Sun God.

The claws of the Sun God are said to hold a sacrificial human heart.

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