- a god of the Great Bear constellation and of the night sky, one of the major deities of the Aztec pantheon. Tezcatlipoca's cult was brought to central Mexico by the Toltecs, Nahua-speaking warriors from the north, about the end of the 10th century AD. Numerous myths relate how he expelled the priest-king Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent, from his centre at Tula. A protean wizard, he caused the death of many Toltecs by his black magic and induced the virtuous Quetzalcoatl to sin, drunkenness, and carnal love, thus putting an end to the Toltec golden age. Under his influence the practice of human sacrifice was introduced to central Mexico. Tezcatlipoca's nagual, or animal disguise, was the jaguar, the spotted skin of which was compared to the starry sky. A creator god, Tezcatlipoca ruled over Ocelotonatiuh (Jaguar-Sun), the first of four worlds that were created and destroyed before the present universe.
Tezcatlipoca was generally represented with a stripe of black paint across his face and an obsidian mirror in place of one of his feet (his name means Smoking Mirror). The post-Classic (after 900) Maya-Quiche people of Guatemala revered him as a lightning god under the name Hurakan (One Foot). Other representations show Tezcatlipoca with his mirror on his chest. In it he saw everything; invisible and omnipresent, he knew all the deeds and thoughts of men.
In Aztec times (14th - 16th centuries AD), Tezcatlipoca's manifold attributes and functions brought him to the summit of the divine hierarchy, where he ruled together with Huitzilopochtli, Tlaloc, and Quezalcoatl (qq.v.). Called Yoalli Ehecatl (Night Wind), Yaotl (Warrior), and Telpochtli (Young Man), he was said to appear at crossroads at night to challenge warriors. He presided over the telpochcalli ("young men's houses"), district schools in which the sons of the common people received an elementary education and military training. Protector of slaves, he severely punished masters who ill-treated "Tezcatlipoca's beloved children." He rewarded virtue by bestowing riches and fame, and he chastised wrongdoers by sending them sickness (e.g. leprosy) or by reducing them to poverty and slavery.
The main feature of Tezcatlipoca's cult took place during the fifth ritual month, Toxcatl. Every year at that time, the priest selected a young and handsome war prisoner. For one year he lived in princely luxury, impersonating the god. Four beautiful girls dressed as goddesses were chosen as his companions. On the appointed feast day he climbed the steps of a small temple while breaking flutes that he had played. At the top he was sacrificed by the removal of his heart.
Outside of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, Tezcatlipoca was especially revered at Texcoco and in the Mixteca-Puebla region between Oaxaca and Tlaxcala.


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