The Coyolxauhqui, Jewel of the Museo del Templo Mayor

The disc-shaped monumental sculpture of the goddess Coyolxauhqui is exhibited in Room 4 of the Museo del Templo Mayor in Mexico City.

It was discovered on February 21, 1978 by a group of workers from the Company Luz y Fuerza del Centro Histórico. Supervised by the INAH, the excavation of the monolith was performed by the team from INAH Archaeological Salvage, made up at the time by Raul Arana, A.  García Kook and Rafael Domínguez.

Almost two months later, on April 15, 1978, the area of exploration was handed over to the eminent Prof. Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, a Mexican archaeologist and coordinator of the work at Temple Archaeology Project.

Coyolxauhqui in Aztec mythology Coyolxauhqui means “she who wears rattles on the cheek.”

Daughter of Coatlicue, the earth and mother goddess of the Aztecs, Coyolxauhqui was the goddess of the moon. Her brothers : “the Centzon Huiznahua or the Four hundreds of the South” were stars.

Aztec mythology tells that one day the goddess Coatlicue was in her temple on the top of Cerro de Coatepec, when a ball of feathers fell from the sky and turned to her chest leaving her pregnant.

Upon hearing this news, Coyolxauhqui was angry and urged her brothers to accompany her to Coatepec to kill her mother and her offspring.
 What the goddess of the Moon was not expecting was that her mother was pregnant with Huitzilopochtli or the “Colibri Zurdo”, who would be the god of war and patron of the Aztecs.

When the murderous procession reached the hill, Coatlicue was giving birth to Huizilopochtli, who buried the fateful plan of the brothers and was ready to face them.

Huitzilopochtli was born with a dress of war and armed with a snake of fire, called Xiuhcoatl, that decapitated his sister. From atop the hill he threw the body in the fall and was quartered at every turn.

This mythological episode is shown with the maimed body of the goddess in the relief of Coyolxauhqui monolith exhibited in room 4 of the Templo Mayor Museum.

Description of the Coyolxauhqui Monolith

This is a block of volcanic rock of pale pink weighing just under 8 tons. Placed horizontally, according to Aztec cosmology, in which the deities of the Earth were laid on the floor, its diameter is irregular in diameter from 3.04 minimum to 3.25 m maximum and total thickness is 30.05 cm.

The relief shows the goddess Coyolxauhqui’s mutilated arms and legs, with drops of blood flowing from the extremities.

In pre-Hispanic times, this monolith was placed at the foot of the Temple, on the side corresponding to the shrine of the god Huitzilopochtli. It is estimated that its dating corresponds to the construction stage IVb of the Temple during the reign of Tlatoani Axayacatl 1469-1481.