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The Mexica or Mexiti

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The Mexica or Mexiti
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Codex Boturini

The Mexica or Mexiti

One alone is called Mexicatl; many are called Mexica. This comes from the name Mecitli: me, that is to say, Maguey; citli, rabbit. It should be pronounced Mecicatl. Hence it is a corruption when Mexicatl is said.

According to tradition, the name of the priest who led the Mexica was Mecitli. It was said that when he was born they named him Citli. And they placed him in a maguey leaf, where he grew strong; wherefore was he named Mecitli. And this one, when he matured, became a priest, a keeper of the god. It is said that he spoke personally with [god], wherefore they revered him greatly; and all obeyed the one by whom they were led. And since he led his subjects, therefore they were given the name Mexica.

These Mexica, according to the account, came the very last from the land of the Chichimeca, from the desert lands. Behold the story which the old people told. In the distant past, which no one can still reckon, which no one can still remember, those who came here to disperse their descendants-- the grandfathers, the grandmothers, those called the ones who arrived first, the ones who came first, those who came sweeping the way, those who came with their bound, those who came to rule in this land, those of the same name, those who seemed to form their own little world--came over the water in boats; they came in many divisions.

And they drew along the coast, the coast to the north. And where they came to beach their boats is named Panotla, which means “where they crossed over the water.” Now it is called Pantla. Then they followed along the coast line; they went looking at the mountains, especially the snow white mountains and the smoking mountains. Going along the coast line, they went to reach Quauhtemallan.

And these did not go of their own volition, for their priests led them. The priests went counseling with their god. Then they came--they arrived--at a place named Tamoanchan, which is to say, “We seek our home.” And there they tarried.

And there were wise men called Amoxoaque. The wise men remained not long; soon they went. Once again they embarked and carried off the writings, the books, the paintings; they carried away all the crafts, the casting of metals. And when they departed, they summoned all those they left behind. They said to them: “Our lord, the protector of all, the wind, the night, saith you shall remain. We go leaving you here. Our lord goeth bequeathing you this land; it is your merit, your lot. Our lord, the master of all, goeth, we go accompanying him. He goeth, he goeth back, but he will come, he will come to do his duty, he will come to acknowledge you. When the world is become oppressed, when it is the end of the world, at the time of its ending, he will come to bring it to an end. But until then you shall dwell here; you shall stand guard here. That which lieth here, that which spreadeth germinating, that which resteth in the earth, is your merit, your gift. He maketh it your birthright. For this you followed him here. But we go with him: we go following him whither he goeth.”

Thereupon departed those who carried the god on their backs; they carried him wrapped--wrapped in a bundle. It is said that their god went advising them. And as they went, they traveled to the east. They carried the writings, the books, the paintings. They carried the knowledge; they carried all -- the song books, the flutes.

But four remained of the old men, the wise men: one named Oxomoctzin, one named Cipactonatzin, one named Tlaltetecuitzin, one named Xochicauacatzin. And when the wise men had gone, then these four old men assembled. They took counsel; they said: “The sun will shine, it will dawn. How will the common people live, how will they dwell? He is gone; they carried away the writings. And how will the common people dwell? How will the lands, the mountains be? How will all live? What will govern? What will rule? What will lead? What will show the way? What will be the model, the standard? What will be the example? From what will the start be made? What will become the torch, the light?”

Then they devised the book of the days, the book of the years, the count of the years, the book of dreams. They arranged the reckoning just as it has been kept. And thus was time recorded during all the time the Tolteca, the Tepaneca, the Mexica, and all the Chichimeca reign endured. No longer can it be remembered, no longer can it be investigated how long they were left in Tamoanchan, which is to say, “We seek our home.”

The history of it was saved, but it was burned when Itzcoatl ruled in Mexico. A council of rulers of Mexico took place. They said: “It is not necessary for all the common people to know of the writings; government will be defamed, and this will only spread sorcery in the land; for it containeth many falsehoods.”

And they departed from there, from Tamoanchan. Offerings were made at a place named Teotihuacan. And there all the people raised pyramids for the sun and for the moon; then they made many small pyramids where offerings were made. And there leaders were elected, wherefore it is called Teotihuacan. And when the rulers died, they buried them there. Then they built a pyramid over them. The pyramid now stand like small mountains, though made by hand. There is a hollow where they removed the stone to built the pyramids.

And they built the pyramids of the sun and the moon very large, just like mountains. It is unbelievable when it is said they are made by hands, but giants still lived there then. Also it is very apparent from the artificial mountains at Cholollan; they are of sand, of adobe. It is apparent they are only constructed, only made. And so they named it Teotihuacan, because it was the burial place of the rulers. For so it was said: “When we die, it is not true that we die; for still we live, we are resurrected. We still live; we awaken. Do thou likewise.” In this manner they spoke to the dead when one had died; if it were a man they spoke to him--they addressed him--as the god Cuecuextzin. And if it were a woman, her they addressed as Chamotzin: “Awaken! It hath reddened; the dawn hath set in. Already singeth the flame-colored cock, the flame-colored swallow; already flieth the flame-colored butterfly.”

Thus the old men said, he who died became a god. They said, “He hath become a god.” …

[Florentine Codex, Book 10: Ch. 29, "The Mexica or Mexiti"]
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