Sabtu, 14 Juni 2008

The First Human Beings and the Discovery of Maize

The fifth sun needed to be populated, as the people from the previous sun had been exterminated. Quetzalcoatl journeyed into the underworld, known as Mictlan, to retrieve the bones of the dead of the fourth sun from Mictlantecuhtli, Lord of the Land of the Dead, and his wife Mictlancihuatl. From those bones, Quetzalcoatl would re-create the human beings necessary to inhabit the new world. Mictlantecuhtli agreed to release the bones to Quetzalcoatl under one condition: Quetzalcoatl had to sound a conch shell four times around Mictlan. This seemingly easy task was a trick; the conch that Mictlantecuhtli gave Quetzalcoatl was flawed—it did not have any holes—making it impossible for Quetzalcoatl to sound the conch. Quetzalcoatl, however, could not be fooled, and he ordered worms to burrow holes into the shell. Additionally, he had bees go inside the conch shell in order to produce a loud, resonating sound.
Seeing that Quetzalcoatl had met his condition, Mictlantecuhtli allowed Quetzalcoatl to take the bones, but before long, he had a change of heart. Mictlantecuhtli set a trap, and Quetzalcoatl fell into a deep pit. Being a deity, Quetzalcoatl was able to revive himself and escaped the underworld with the bones, which had broken in the fall.
Upon ascending to Earth from the underworld, Quetzalcoatl went to a place called Tamoanchan to grind the bones with the aid of the goddess Cihuacoatl, also known as the Woman Serpent and patron of fertility. To bring life to the bones, Quetzalcoatl and other deities drew blood from their male members and poured it over the bones. The bones were revived from the blood of the gods, and thus the first human beings of the fifth sun were created. Because the bones were broken on their way from the underworld, humans of the fifth sun are composed of many different sizes. The first human couple created were Cipactonal and Oxomoco.
To feed the people, Quetzalcoatl transformed himself into an ant in order to be able to enter Mt. Tonacatepetl, also known as the Mountain of Sustenance, which contained the food for the new peoples. From the mountain, he gathered the grains of maize, which would become the main food source for the people of the fifth sun. However, in order for a ready supply to be continually available, the god Nanahuatzin was summoned to open up Mt. Tonacatepetl. With the help of the four Tlaloc gods, or gods of rain, Nanahuatzin succeeded in opening up the mountain and spilling the seeds and kernels, which became the food supply for the new people. Tlaloc is thus always associated with crops, as he is the main purveyor of rain and therefore also associated with fertility.
The sun god Tonatiuh and the rain god Tlaloc helped humans produce maize and flowers, which provided life and joy on Earth. Because the gods had volunteered to sacrifice themselves in order to activate the Sun and Moon, they maintained life in the universe. The gods, then, by means of their will, effort, and sacrifice, bestowed life to humans, and for that reason men and women were called macehualtin, “the deserved ones.” Humans, in return, were forced to be thankful to the gods for these benefits and were obligated to sustain the gods with maize and other Earth products. However, due to the dual nature of the Earth, the good things of the world were also threatened by the possibility of droughts and cataclysms that could bring destruction and death. The Aztec ensured the continued benevolence of the gods by appeasing them with continued propitiation rituals and human sacrifice.

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