At last another entry for my Primer of New Spain, “N” for the New Fire Ceremony. The end of the Aztec “century”, every 52 years was a precarious time, one full of tremendous trepidation. In the period of 7 “centuries” four major disasters occurred ; it was of great significance to the Aztec that the New Fire Ceremony succeed .
After all flames within the kingdom were extinguished, the ceremony was performed south of Tenochtitlan at Huixachtlan, the Hill of the Star. The nocturnal ritual entailed the usual human sacrifice; but after the removal of the unfortunate victim’s heart, the priest kindled a new flame from a drill board placed in the chest cavity.
The belief was that the new flame was divine, sent from the heavens ; IF a flame occurred the Universe was given a 52 year reprieve, if not…
My interpretation depicted with my usual romanticism includes a youthful priest, the victim equally young; I am currently a bit obsessed with Cain and Abel; my Temple of Huixachtlan fashioned to vaguely resemble the letter “N”;my altar looks suspicioulsy Neo-Classical.
All to be expected I suppose.
It is interesting to note that according to Fray Bernardino de Sahagún the last New Fire Ceremony was held in 1507 during the reign of Motecuhzoma II; the eighth was scheduled for 1559 but by then New Spain was a firm reality and the Aztecs long vanquished.
On another note my painting The Sacrifice of the Father: Recollections of the Popl huh I has been accepted in a group show at the Los Angeles based Brand Library and Gallery ;the exhibition, Memories , seems to have proven a suitable fit for my offering. This is the second year I have participated at the Brand, the exhibition is Brand 41 as there have been 41 exhibitions. My painting is now sitting in my studio freshly ( and unexpectedly expensively) framed. I will most likely not attend the opening ( a bit of a schlepp), but I am hand delivering the painting tomorrow .
Until next time,
Found a silly Aztec cartoon that seem timely to this post: