Xipe Totec

In Aztec mythology, Xipe Totec ("our lord the flayed one") was a life-death-rebirth deity, god of agriculture, the west, disease, spring, goldsmiths and the seasons. He flayed himself to give food to humanity, symbolic of the maize seed losing the outer layer of the seed before germination. Without his skin, he was depicted as a golden god.


Annually, slaves were selected as sacrifices to Xipe Totec. These slaves were carefully flayed to produce a nearly whole skin which was then worn by the priests during the fertility rituals that followed the sacrifice. Some accounts indicate that a thigh bone from the sacrifice was defleshed and used by the priest to touch spectators in a fertility blessing. Paintings and several clay figures have been found which illustrate the flaying method and the appearance of priests wearing flayed skins.

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Uploaded on October 5, 2006