Xipe Totec or “Our Lord the Flayed One” in Náhuatl, was a Mesoamerican god whose origin is uncertain. Xipe Totec might have descended from God VI in Olmec culture or from the Yope civilization in the southern highlands of Guerrero. Xipe Totec was also known as Tlatlauhca, Tlatlauhqui, Red Tezcatlipoca, and Youalahuan. The goddess Xilonen-Chicomecoatl was the female equivalent of Xipe Totec. The first depictions of Xipe Totec first appeared near Teotihuacán in Xolalpan and Texcoco. The deity most likely became a prominent Aztec god during the 15th century due to the Aztec conquest of the Gulf Coast under the reign of Axaycatl. Xipe Totec was a major Aztec god also worshipped by Tlaxcaltecans, Zapotecs, Mixtecs, Tarascan, and Huastecs. Xipe Totec was protector of day Cuauhtli and the trecena that starts with 1-Itzcuintli in the Aztec calendar. The Aztec civilization was one that was founded on religion and relied on art to portray their beliefs. Rituals played an important role in keeping their surrounding world thriving and paying homage to their ancestors was key. Xipe Totec was only one of the various gods that the Aztecs honored.
Xipe Totec is the god of shedding skins and therefore usually associated with rejuvenation and springtime. Also believed to be the god that invented war, some of his symbols included the pointed cap and rattle staff, which was also the war attire for the Mexica emperor. In codices Xipe Totec was depicted wearing flayed human skin with the skin of the hands hanging from the wrists. His body is usually painted tan on one side and yellow on the other, along with the legs, hands, neck, lips, and mouth being painted red. The mouth is open, the ears are pierced and the eyes are not visible. Xipe Totec carried a yellow shield and a container with seeds, his face sometimes had vertical stripes running from the forehead to the chin through the eyes.
In Aztec mythology Xipe Totec was son of Ometeotl the dual god and brother of Black Tezcatlipoca, Huizilopochtli, and Quetzalcoatl. Xipe Totec is associated with the creation of the universe by Ometeotl. Xipe Totec was one of the gods assigned to create the earth, at this point he was identified as Red Tezcatlipoca. In order to make the sun move Xipe Totec sacrificed himself by jumping into a raging fire in the city of Teotihuacan. Xipe Totec is believed to be the god of life, death, rebirth, the seasons, agriculture, disease, and goldsmiths. Xipe Totec would flay himself to provide food for humanity, symbolizing maize seeds that lose their outer layer before germination or the shedding skin of snakes. This also represented the earth shedding a dry old layer replaced by a new, lush layer brought by the rains. After shedding his skin, Xipe Totec is depicted as being a shiny golden god. Xipe Totec was believed to have healing powers and was an important symbol of the coming of age of young warriors; therefore his temple Yopico played a crucial part in rituals.
Yopico was a...