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Tonatiuh: Tonatiuh, Sun God in Toltec, Maya, and Aztec Religion, Mythology


Name and Etymology:


Religion and Culture of Tonatiuh:

Aztec, Mesoamerica

Symbols, Iconography, and Art of Tonatiuh:

Tonatiuh is frequently depicted wearing the dress of a Maya king.

Tonatiuh was God of:

Current World

Equivalents in Other Cultures:

unknown — please email me if you have any information to add about this.

Story and Origin of Tonatiuh:

A sun god throughout central Mexico, Tonatiuh started out as a Toltec god and was later adopted into both Maya and Aztec mythologies. According to the Aztecs, Tonatiuh started out as Nanautzin, a god of no importance, and through good luck acquired the position of god of the sun of the current age. He demanded that all other gods sacrifice to him and Itztlacoliuhqui, upset over the demand, shot an arrow at Tonatiuh who send the arrow back, turning him to stone.

Family Tree and Relationships of Tonatiuh:

unknown — please email me if you have any information to add about this.

Temples, Worship and Rituals of Tonatiuh:

Tonatiuh was responsible for the sun moving through the sky, and since the sun is so important, the Aztecs naturally wanted to keep Tonatiuh as happy as possible. Tonatiuh demanded many human sacrifices in order to keep the sun moving and the Aztecs obliged. Priests would take victims to a temple where they would cut out their heart while they were still alive. The Aztecs paid very close attention to the movement of the sun and their calendar is second only to the Mayan in accuracy.

Mythology and Legends of Tonatiuh:

The Aztec associated Tonatiuh with war; one fierce conquistador, Pedro de Alvarado, was actually called Tonatiuh by the Aztecs.

Tonatiuh isn't just any sun god, though — he's the "fifth" sun, which how the Aztecs described the sun of the present age we live in. Thus, while Tonatiuh isn't the chief god, is the god responsible for ruling over our world. Tonatiuh also ruled over Tollan, the Aztec heaven.

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