“N” is for New Fire Ceremony

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.

“N” is for New Fire Ceremony
watercolor on paper
11 by 18 inches

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 . 

Recollection awaiting delivery.

Until next time,

take care,


Found a  silly Aztec cartoon that seem timely to this post:

Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

6 thoughts on ““N” is for New Fire Ceremony”

  1. A drill board in the sacrifice’s chest cavity? Oh my!

    Congratulations on this splendid new addition to your alphabet, Leonard. You’ve really nailed conjuring your subject out of ‘tinted’ grisaille with an accent of colour.

    Well done, too, on the acceptance of your work into the Los Angeles exhibition. I’m not at all surprised, but given how subjective the selection of any exhibition can be, it’s not a given that any work, no matter how good, makes it through. So, a big slap on the back to you, sir!

    1. Thank you Clive, I enjoyed working with grisaille, though yes, I did “cheat” a bit with tinting.
      I’ve enjoyed reviewing your own process on jury selections, particularly as I enter my own work. Your final selections were impressive indeed.

  2. congratulations!
    what a great post, i love the comic, and i agree with clive that you have a really unified and fantastic alphabet forming. do you have a suitably sized scanner? it really would be an excellent book in the end!!!

    as for the honored painting, i had not seen that post, so a treat! i love the sinewy musculature, i have become quite fond of that aspect in your paintings 😉 as well as the blue flesh (and, in the other case, not-flesh), of course. the skull fitting as a mask over the muscle is fan-tas-ic. the sacrifice, of course, is hideous, but i love the way you traced the ideal of its path with the red veins. 😀

    1. Thanks!
      I don’t have a large scanner, you have mentioned this before, perhaps I ought to look into that. I assume a local print should could come to my aid. I am woefully ignorant concerning g promotion , frankly any application of what i make post creation. They are filed away only to re-discovered years later.
      I’m happy you like the characters, gruesomeness aside, I hope I avoid unnecessary gore that so many find disturbingly titillating.

  3. Congratulations on the show!! And N is lovely, really good… the puff of smoke is especially pleasing somehow. It was interesting to learn a little about this fire ceremony.

    Good luck with the copper by the way. Perhaps your teacher is urging you away from it because you can’t use copper and zinc in the same acid bath and he only uses zinc. But then, if it’s drypoint you’re wanting to do it can’t be that… a mystery!

    Oh and thanks for sharing the comic too.

    1. Hello,
      Thank you and I am pleased you like “N”; the smoke started taking on human form so I went with it hoping for a certain soulful quality.
      You have been great help concerning my printmaking, much gratitude. There does seem to be a problem with the acid baths and zinc vs.copper. Right now there isn’t a designated copper bath, but when i order copper he will set one up for me. I was working on a plate, drypoint , yesterday in my studio, eager to run a proof this morning when I go to class. Need to produce a series of three by four. hopefully will have something to post . I’m not very pleased with my skill level right now, trying to accept the fact that I must learn this new technique first. That seems my biggest challenge.
      Again thank you for the pointers.

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