Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli: History, Attributes And Pyramid

Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli  was one of the gods that made up the Toltec cosmogony. Later it was gaining cultic strength among other cultures of Mesoamerica , including the Mexica. Its name in the Nahuatl language translates “lord of the dawn” or “morning star”.

Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli is the first light of the star that is observed when it rises and that astronomers know as the planet Venus . According to Mexica mythology, Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli was the god of energy and vitality, as well as a relative of Xiuhtecuhtli, who was attributed the power of fire. 

Specialists maintain that Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli is one of the invocations of the god Quetzacoalt, the feathered serpent. For the peoples that inhabited America before the arrival of the Europeans, nature and its phenomena were considered gods or divine manifestations.

The sages and rulers had among their duties to observe and learn the art of interpreting the events that happened in heaven.

Planets, stars, comets and their movements were monitored and compiled into drawings (codices) and calendars that sought to explain the origin and why of all things.

One of the natural events recorded in the records of the peoples of Central America has to do with the god Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, to whom the sunrises are attributed.


According to pre-Hispanic theogony, Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli is the son of the first gods called Ometecuhtli and Omecíhuat.

This divine and primal couple, symbol of the masculine and feminine, generated four children: Xipetótec (god of renewal), Tezcatlipoca (god of duality), Huitzilopochtli (god of war) and Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli or Quetzalcóatl (god of light , wisdom and wind).

Other accounts claim that he was born to a mortal human named Chimalman, who fell in love with a Toltec warrior chief named Mitxcóatl who was hunting.

Already married, the beautiful woman accidentally swallowed a precious stone and because of this she became pregnant with a child whom they called Topilzin, which means “our prince”.


Little Topilzin was initiated into the religious arts at a school located in Xochilco. It is said that from a very young age he was a model of virtues and goodness, to the point that he became a great priest and then came to be considered the same god Quetzacoatl. According to this legend, this god would then have human and divine origin.

The prince founded the city of Tula, a sacred place that today houses the remains of ancient civilizations.

The story goes that he was so kind that he could not bear human sacrifice in the temples; for this he prohibited them. This action produced the anger of the god Tezcatlipoca, who presented himself to him with a bewitched mirror where the prince contemplated his terribly deformed face.

Anguished by such a horrendous vision, the kind prince was invited by the malicious Tezcatlipoca to a dinner. Supposedly, there he would be able to regain his calm and forget his worry. 

The prince agreed. He ate and drank without knowing that it was a trap to dull his senses and make him lie with a priestess whom he loved like a sister: Quetzalpetlatl.

Once the deception was discovered, the prince could not bear the disgrace inflicted on his dear friend and the shame of having broken his vow of chastity.

For this reason he threw himself into the fire, becoming a flock of colorful birds. Another version tells that he ascended to the sky to become the star Venus.

It is said that this god swore to reconquer his kingdom in the form of a bearded human. This is the reason why the original settlers of Central America welcomed the arrival of Hernán Cortes with joy, confusing him with Quetzalcóatl, the good god; the Spanish took advantage of the myth, which helped him to carry out his plans of conquest.


Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli (lord at dawn) is a word in the Nahuatl language and comes from the union of three words:  tlahuizcalli (aurora), pan (en) and  tecuhtli (lord). It is identified with the feathered serpent that embodies the duality of the terrestrial (reptile) with the celestial (feathers).


Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli is said to be the symbol of the sun in the fullness of the sky. It is a being that softens and shines. The gifts of life, enlightenment, sweetness, fecundity and knowledge are attributed to him.

It is usually identified in the codices for its body painted with stripes. He wears a black mask with white circumferences that he wears over his eyes, a feathered headband and black with white tips.

He has on his face a painting of five white dots with a quincunx type pattern, yellow hair and a special weapon for shooting darts.

He is considered the god of the three elements: the celestial force, the terrestrial force and the human force. He is also credited with having invented agriculture.


Only the highest-ranking gods had the privilege of having exclusive constructions to perform ceremonies and offerings in their honor. Such is the case of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, “lord of the dawn.”

In his honor, the Toltec Empire erected a pyramid as an altar in the year 1100. Its ruins are among the monuments of greatest historical and architectural value in Central America.


The Archaeological Center of Tula is located in the state of Hidalgo, specifically in the city of Tollan-Xicocotitlan, 80 kilometers from the capital of Mexico. In its spaces is the Pyramid of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtl or pyramid B.

Surrounded by the Tezontlalpa mountain range and in a valley bathed by the waters of the Tula River, is the pyramidal structure that rests on a base whose surface area is approximately 7000 m².


The wide staircase is 43 meters high and is made of sun-drenched stone blocks. Thousands of tourists come every year to see this majestic Mexican archaeological landmark.

Following the tradition of the Toltecs of locating their ceremonial precincts very close to heaven, at the top of the pyramid are the remains of what was once the temple of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, also called the “morning star.”

Like columns are the huge Atlanteans, which are sculptures of warriors over 4 meters high. These still maintain their position of custodian and support of the roof of the temple of the combative Toltec culture .

A reflection of the rituals that were performed there are the friezes and reliefs on the walls of this pyramid. With them crude episodes are shown in which felines and snakes devour human bodies.

The place where this pyramid is located is considered a sacred space destined for the initiation into the mysteries and the spiritual improvement of those who came or lived there.


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