The Primeval Fire

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Puebla-Tlaxcala Fire Lord

The fire god is one of the oldest of all Mesoamerican deities, in both history and mythology. As these figures show, for over two thousand years he has been depicted as an elderly man, with wrinkles on his face and a slump in his back. This volcanic stone sculpture comes from the region between Puebla and Tlaxcala, and it dates to the Late Formative, between 400 BC and 150 AD.

National Museum of Anthropology and History

Teotihuacan Fire Lord

The most common feature among fire god images is the brazier carried upon hunched shoulders, so that the sculpture could then be used for ceremonial pyres.

National Museum of Anthropology and History, Teotihuacan Site Museum

Xochicalco Fire Lord

The old god's basic form changed little over centuries. An interesting additition in this sculpture is a small mask. It comes from Building A of Xochicalco, Morelos, and it dates to the Epi-Classic Period.

National Museum of Anthropology and History

Fire Lord from Cerro de las Mesas

Discovered at Cerro de las Mesas, Veracruz, this is one of the most life-like renditions of the Mesoamerican fire god, in both likeness and size. The brazier is especially pronounced upon the elderly figure's back. In Mesoamerican myth the fire god sat at the center of the cosmos, from which the four cardinal directions spread out.

National Museum of Anthropology and History


The Aztec fire god appears here as Xiuhtecuhtli, Lord of the Year. Fire was essential in Aztec myth because the sun, the moon, and the universe itself were all born in fiery conflagration. The god often appears in the Aztecs' religious codices carrying a flaming drill. Xiuhteuctli is said to reside in the very heart of the earth. He is a variant of the ancient Huehuehteotl, 'Old Man Spirit,' the only god to survive all four of the previous solar ages.

Aztec Great Temple Museum