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Goddess of maguey
Member of the Nauhtzonteteo
Mayahuel as depicted in the Codex Rios
Abodethe volcano Popocatépetl[1]
Ethnic groupAztec (Nahoa)
Personal information
ParentsOmecihuatl (Emerged by Tecpatl)
Siblingsthe Nauhtzonteteo (1,600 gods)
ChildrenCentzon Tōtōchtin (400 rabbits)

Mayahuel (Nahuatl pronunciation: [maˈjawel]) is the female deity associated with the maguey plant among cultures of central Mexico in the Postclassic era of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican chronology, and in particular of the Aztec cultures. As the personification of the maguey plant, Mayahuel is also part of a complex of interrelated maternal and fertility goddesses in Aztec religion and is also connected with notions of fecundity and nourishment.[2]


Origins from the maguey plant[edit]

The making of pulque, as illustrated in the Florentine Codex (Book 1 Appendix, fo.40)[3]

Maguey is a flowering plant of the genus Agave, native to parts of southwestern modern United States and Mexico. The depictions of Mayahuel in the Codex Borgia and the Codex Borbonicus show the deity perched upon a maguey plant. The deity's positioning in both illustrations, as well as the same blue pigment used to depict her body and the body of the maguey plant on Page 8 of the Codex Borbonicus, give the sense that she and the plant are one. Furthermore, the Codex Borbonicus displays Mayahuel as holding what looks like rope, presumably spun from the maguey plant fibers. Rope was only one of the many products extracted from the maguey plant. Products extracted from the maguey plant were used extensively across highlands and southeastern Mesoamerica, with the thorns used in ritual bloodletting ceremonies and fibers extracted from the leaves worked into ropes, netting, bags, and cloth.[4][5] Yet, perhaps the maguey product most well-known and celebrated by the Aztecs is the alcoholic beverage octli, or later named pulque,[6] produced from the fermented sap of the maguey plant and used prominently in many public ceremonies and on other ritual occasions. By extension, Mayahuel is also often shown in contexts associated with pulque. Although some secondary sources describe her as a "pulque goddess," she remains most strongly associated with the plant as the source, rather than pulque as the end product.[7]

Gallery of depictions in primary sources[edit]


  1. ^ a b Otilia Meza (1981). El Mundo Mágico de los Dioses del Anáhuac (in Spanish). Editorial Universo. p. 105. ISBN 968-35-0093-5.
  2. ^ Miller & Taube (1993, p.111); see also n. 87 to folio 265r of Primeros memoriales (Sahagún 1997, p.110).
  3. ^ "General History of the Things of New Spain by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún: The Florentine Codex — Viewer — World Digital Library". Retrieved 2018-10-07.
  4. ^ Miller & Taube (1993, p.108)
  5. ^ Townsend, Richard F. (2009). The Aztecs: Ancient Peoples and Places (3rd ed.). London: Thames & Hudson. pp. 120, 178. ISBN 9780500287910. OCLC 286447216.
  6. ^ In Nahuatl languages: octli. Pulque is derived from a fermentation of the sweet liquid sap extracted from the plant (in Spanish: aguamiel, "honey-water"). See Miller & Taube (1993, p.108) and Townsend (2009, p.178).
  7. ^ Miller & Taube (1993, pp.108,138)
  8. ^ Elizabeth Hill Boone (1983). The Codex Magliabechiano and the lost prototype of the Magliabechiano group. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0520045203. OCLC 8113016.