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Anthropology Museum

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Worship of Xipe Totec

This sculpture looks like a normal man's, but if you look closely at chest level you have a strange robe. It is nothing less than human skin that covers the body. The skin of the sacrificed, which was skinned, covers the face and part of the body. The man carries a shield and a jaguar-claw shaped glass.

The sculpture represents a warrior or priest who is doing the cult to Xipe Tótec, a god whose name means "Our Lord the flayed one". The piece was found in 1932 at the site of Xolalpan, in Teotihuacan, next to 16 tombs containing Mazapa pottery. This deity was of great importance among the Mexica who each year held a party in his honor called Tlacaxipehualiztli to celebrate military victories and the mythical creation of the Fifth Sun; the captives of war were sacrificed to skin them and to wear the skins. Xipe Tótec was also considered a valuable mediator for the regeneration of corn, an idea that makes sense if one considers that, in his belief system, the warlike activity contributed to renew life as it fed the Sun and the Earth through it with the vital food: the blood.

For many, this cult is related to the decline of the Teotihuacan civilization, mainly due to internal conflicts and the depletion of natural resources in the area.

Anthropology Museum