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Snapshots

Ochpaniztli: The Sweeping

 

The 10th month in the central Mexican calendar, the festival of Ochpaniztli (“Sweeping”) marks the end of the harvest and the beginning of the dry season (Tonalko). This period in the calendar was reserved for warfare. Ochpaniztli is significant in that the 20-day period contains the Fall Equinox, marked by the sunrise over the Templo Mayor (figure A).

 

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Figure A. Horizon astronomy markers used in Central Mexico

 

During this festival, roads and houses were cleaned and swept in an act of purification. As such, the symbol for Ochpanizatli is a broom (figure B). The act of sweeping is associated with Koatlikwe, the mother of Witzilopochtli. According to the myth, Koatlikwe was sweeping a temple when she was struck by a ball of feathers and impregnated. This myth is reenacted by women, who stage a mock combat by throwing marigolds rolled into balls at one another while the men drum. These women served as impersonators (Ixiptla) of Tozi and Tlazolteotl, personifications of the earth.

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Figure B. Symbols for Ochpaniztli as they appear in different codices

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