Aztec Trio

Cozcacuauhtli – the vulture – is the sixteenth animal on the Aztec calendar (the 16th day of the 20 days of the Aztec month). It may be called a buzzard or a condor, and it symbolizes the winged spirit of the night. Birds generally symbolized the celestial realm and were normally associated with the planet Venus, the Moon and the Sun. They were also believed to be messengers between the world of the living and supernatural realms. Vultures were associated with human sacrifice in ancient Mexico, which was an important part of religious life for the Nahuas (or Aztec).

Cipactli – the crocodile – is the first animal represented in the Aztec twenty day calendar. It is commonly associated with an elaborate headdress, much like the one the feathered serpent, Quetzalcoatl, wears. Temples to honor Quetzalcoatl were sometimes dedicated to time and since Cipactli represents the beginning of time, the relationship between the two has a profound cosmological significance. As a calendar sign, Cipactli represents the first of the 20 days which comprise a “month.” The calendar sign of Cipactli symbolizes the beginning and the body of Cipactli itself is time. Cipactli was considered the first and the beginning not only in the 20 day cycle of the calendar month, but also the first in the calendar of destinies.

Cuauhtli – the eagle – embodies of the sun, as well as the origin of the First Sun. It represents renewal and rebirth, and is ruled by “Xipe-totec,” the Lord of Springtime and New Fires. Cuauhtli is the fifteenth day of the Aztec 20-day calendar. The eagle was and remains an animal of enormous cultural significance among Aztec civilization and other pre-Columbian cultures. One of the main forms of honorific warriorships were the Eagle Warriors who, along with the Jaguar Warriors, represented the elite forces of the Aztec military, a civilization that valued military prowess.


Aztec Culture

Cozcacuahuatli – Cipactli – Cuauhtli

1200-1400 CE
Vulture:7 x 5.5 x 7.5 inches
Crocodile: 4.4 x 12 x 5 inches
Eagle:4.5 x 6 x 9 inches

Private Collection, California, acquired 1977-78