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Aztec Goddess of Water Chalchiuhtlicue



The Aztec Goddess Chalchiuhtlicue from the Codex Rios

CJLL Wright

Chalchiuhtlicue (Chal-CHEE-ooh-tlee-quay), whose name means "She of the Jade Skirt", was the Aztec goddess of running water, such as rivers and oceans, and was considered the patroness of navigation. She was one of the most important deities, patroness of childbirth, wife and feminine counterpart of Tlaloc, the rain god. In some sources she is described instead as the wife of the god Xiuhtecuhtli. Chalchiuhtlicue was also the protector of childbirth.

According to the Aztec Legend of the Five Suns, Chalchiuhtlicue governed over the fourth world, or fourth Sun. During this era, Chalchiuhtlicue became the sun and the sky became water. A terrible flood hit the world and humans became fish.

Chalchiuhtlicue's Festivities

Along with Tlaloc, Chalchiuhtlicue pertained to the Aztec group of gods supervising water and fertility. To these deities was dedicated a series of ceremonies called Atlcahualo, which lasted the all month of February. During these ceremonies, the Aztecs performed many rituals, usually on the mountain tops, where they sacrificed children. For Aztec religion, the tears of children were considered good omens for abundant rain.

Chalchiuhtlicue's Images

Chalchiuhtlicue is often depicted in pre-Columbian and colonial codices wearing a blue-green skirt, as her name illustrates, from which flows a stream of water. Sometimes new-born children are portrayed in this water flow. She has black lines on her face and usually wears a jade nose-plug. In Aztec sculpture and portraits, her statues and images are often carved in green stones.


This glossary entry is a part of the About.com guide to Aztec Gods, and the Dictionary of Archaeology.

Taube, Karl A., 1993, Aztec and Maya Myths. Fourth Edition. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texa.s

Van Tuerenhout Dirk R., 2005, The Aztecs. New Perspectives, ABC-CLIO Inc. Santa Barbara, CA; Denver, CO and Oxford, England.

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