The Cosmogonic Epochs.
Around the central deity are four squares called Nahui-Ollin or Four Movement. The Aztecs "believed that the universe had passed through four cyclical epochs, each of which had its own sun."(Klein:1) which represent the four cosmogonic epochs and the ways in which they had ended. Firstly, the world had been destroyed by wild animals, then by wind, fire, and finally by floods.
First Epoch: Ocelotonatiuh (The Jaguar Sun).
"When the giants who had been created by the gods lived. They did not till the soil and lived in caves, ate wild fruits and roots and were finally attacked and devoured by jaguars..."(Flandes)
Second Epoch: Ehecatonatiuh (The Winds Sun).
"The human race was in danger of being destroyed by tremendous hurricanes, but the gods transformed men into apes so as to make them hold better with four hands and not being carried away by hurricanes."(Flandes)
Third Epoch: Quiauhtonatiuh (Rain of Fire Sun).
"Everything was extinguished by the rain of lava and fire. Men were transformed at this time into birds thus being saved of the cataclysm."(Flandes)
Fourth Epoch: Atonatiuh (Water Sun).
"At the end of which everything perished because of terrific storms and torrential rains that covered the earth, reaching the peaks of the highest mountains. The gods changed men into fishes to save them from the deluge."(Flandes)
It is ironic that the Aztecs actually believed they were living in the fifth and last world, and held rituals and vigils in order that this did not happen. Nevertheless, it did theoretically end with the arrival of the Spanish. However, much of this was to do with the strong belief in their mythology: Moctezuma II believed Hernan Cortes to be the returning Quetzalcoatl, and as such, he and the Aztecs were defeated. Further, the Calendar Stone, according to Beyer and Seler, "is a graphic symbol of the Aztec concept of the five mythological solar epochs and the end of the world."(Klein:2) The following is an image of
the defeat of the Aztecs by the Spanish.
The following is an image of the defeat of the Aztecs by the Spanish.
Discovery and History.
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