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Huitzilopochtli

Huitzilopochtli, whose name means "Blue Hummingbird on the Left," was the Aztec god of the Sun and the war. He was shown as a blue man fully armed with hummingbird feathers on his head. His mother Coatlicue became pregnant with Huitzilopochtli when a ball of feathers fell from the heaven and touched her. Huitzilopochtli's siblings thought that their mother Coatlicue had dishonored them with her mysterious pregnancy.

One sister of Huitzilopochtli, Coyolxauhqui, encouraged her star sisters and brothers to kill their mother Coatlicue. However, Huitzilopochtli sprang out of his mother and saved her. Coatlicue regretted such violence. Thus, Huitzilopochtli cut off Coyolxauhqui's head and threw it in the sky to become the Moon.

Aztecs used to offer human sacrifices to Huitzilopochtli. The victims were usually prisoners captured in the frequent wars that Aztecs were fighting against their neighbors. The sacrifices were intended to secure rain, harvests and success in war.The most common form of sacrifice practiced by Aztecs was to tear out the heart of a living body and offer it to the Sun.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF