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THE DEITY AS A MOSAIC: IMAGES OF THE GOD XIPE TOTEC IN DIVINATORY CODICES FROM CENTRAL MESOAMERICA

Published: 21 July 2021

Abstract: In this article I argue that the graphic images of the gods in the divinatory codices are composed of signs of different semantic values which encode particular properties. All of them contribute to creating the identity of the god. However, these graphic elements are not only shared by different deities, but even differ between representations of the same god. Analyzing the graphic images of Xipe Totec, one of the best-studied deities and one of the oldest in Mesoamerica, I elaborate a hypothesis that the images of the gods in the divinatory codices were perceived by their authors as a mosaic of different properties, which at the same time were dynamic. Consequently, there was not even one “prototypical” representation of a single god, since possibly the identity of a god was defined precisely when composing his/her image with particular graphic signs, thus crystallizing some of his/her multiple properties, important at this precise moment.
Keywords: god / graphic images / deities / composed / signs / mosaic / divinatory / codices / XIPE TOTEC

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