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Cuetzpalin is an auspicious day of the fourth trecena, or unit, in the Aztec calendar. It was the first day of the 13-day period and was believed to have an impact on the good fortune of the Aztec. Like all the other days of the Aztec calendar, Cuetzpalin was represented by a symbol – the image of a lizard.
What is Cuetzpalin?
The Mesoamericans had a 260-day calendar known as the tonalpohualli, which was divided into 20 separate units, known as trecenas. Cuetzpalin (also known as Kan) is the first day of the fourth trecena, ruled by Itztlacoliuhqui, the god of ice, frost, cold, winter, punishment, human misery, and sin.
The word cuetzpalin is said to be derived from the word acuetzpalin, meaning large alligator, lizard, aquatic reptile, or caiman, which is a fitting name since the day is represented by a lizard.
Symbolism of Cuetzpalin
Cuetzpalin signifies quick reversals of fortune. It’s considered a good day to work on one’s reputation by taking the right actions, rather than using words. The day is also associated with the changing of one’s luck.
According to certain sources, the thirteen days of the fourth trecena were governed by handing out punishments and rewards. It was believed that warriors had to be like lizards as they do not suffer injury from a high fall, but immediately recover and return to their perch. Due to this, the lizard was chosen as the symbol for the first day of this trecena.
The Governing Gods of Cuetzpalin
While the trecena is governed by Itztlacoliuhqui, the day cuetzpalin is governed by Huehuecoyotl, the trickster god. Also known as the Old Coyote, Huehuecoyotl is the god of dance, music, song, and mischief. He’s often described as a prankster who enjoyed playing tricks on humans and the other deities, but his tricks would usually backfire, causing more trouble for himself than for those he pranked.
According to some sources, cuetzpalin was ruled by another god, Macuilxochitl. He was the god of games, art, flowers, song, music, and dance in Aztec mythology. He was also the patron of reading, writing, and the strategic game known as patolli.
Cuetzpalin is the first day of the fourth 13-day period in the sacred Aztec calendar.
Although this day was said to be governed by two deities Huehuecoyotl and Macuilxochitl, Huehuecoyotl was the main deity who ruled Cuetzpalin.
Cuetzpalin is represented by a lizard.