Saturday, October 10, 2015

Quotes from _The Flower and the Scorpion_ #28

"In a recent book, Catherine DiCesare has argued that this particular set of paintings signifies not Ochpaniztli, but rather a particular historical ceremony intended to prevent famine and make the earth become more fertile. In either case, this image shows that the tlacuilo wants Tlazolteotl to signify the ritual renewal of the earth. We see Tlazolteotl toward the bottom of the picture, not in the center, dedicated to Chicomecoatl, the maize goddess. This signifies the conjunction of several goddesses related to the fertility of the earth. In the center of the image we see a powerful priest of Tenochtitlan wearing the flayed skin of a woman said to be the goddess of maize. Here, even with the maize goddess at the center, the ritual requires the presence of Tlazolteotl, encouraging the phallic priests (figure 9).
Tlazolteotl is on the right side of the page at the bottom. She wears her traditional headdress, is fully clothed, and she carries a broom in her left hand. Facing Tlazolteotl is a central priest, said to be from Tenochtitlan. This extensively arrayed priest wears an ornate gown and robe, beautifully colored in red, orange, green, and blue. The priest himself is colored black. He holds in his right hand a long blue snake that emanates from his body in a seemingly phallic manner. Behind him are two other priests, wearing headdresses, masks, and loincloths. They place their right hands on their hyperextended phalluses, made from paper. These priests are not colored in, and they appear to be imagined as similar to Tlazolteotl, who also is not colored in. They are called in the Spanish gloss Huastecs, and we know from other descriptions of this ceremony that this is a representation that Nahuas traditionally gave these priests. As Huastecs, people from the gulf coast, also the area from which Tlazolteotl's image emanates, these priests signified partial outsiders with hypermasculine sexual desires. The joke is on them, though. Upon the successful seduction, presumably including penetration, orgasm, and conception, as this, after all, must lead to a successful harvest, Tlazolteotl will in effect castrate the Huastec priests as she will take away their phalluses and the priests later will have only brooms, a symbol of Tlazolteotl, and of course the ostensible purpose of the ritual in which temples, houses, and streets are swept."

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