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Teotl (About this soundmodern Nahuatl pronunciation ) is a central idea of Aztec religion. The Nahuatl term is often translated as "god", but it may have held more abstract aspects of the numinous or divine, akin to the Polynesian concept of Mana.[1] In Pipil mythology Teut (Nawat cognate of Teotl)[2][3] is known merely as the creator and the father of life.[4] The nature of "Teotl" has been an ongoing discussion between scholars for many years.

Teotl is also a key element in the understanding of the fall of the Aztec empire, because it seems that the Aztec ruler Moctezuma II and the Aztecs in general referred to Cortés and the conquistadors as "Teotl" - it has been widely believed that this means that they believed them to be Gods, but a better understanding of "teotl" might suggest that they were merely seen as "mysterious" and "inexplicable".[5]

Whereas in most Nahuatl translations of the Bible and Christian texts, "God" (אֱלֹהִ֔ים, Θεός) is translated with the Spanish word Dios,[6] in modern translations by the Catholic Church in the 21st century, the word Teotzin, which is a combination of teotl and the reverential suffix -tzin, has been used officially for "God".[7]


  1. ^ Taube and Miller 1993, pp 89. For a lengthy treatment of the subject see Hvidtfeldt, 1958
  2. ^ Rafael Lara-Martínez, Rick McCallister. Glosario cultural Náwat Pipil y Nicarao. p. 199: tewt, teut, “Dios”; teot, náhuatl teotl “god, dios” (Nicaragua) [Squier]. téut, “Dios” [Calvo Pacheco].
  3. ^ Also used for the Christian God in a modern translation of the New Testament by Alan King, Ne Bibliaj Tik Nawat, Ne Iyeknawatilis Yojan 1:1 (John 1:1): Achtu nemik ne palabraj wan ne palabraj nemik itech ne Teut wan Teut ne palabraj Archived 2016-05-07 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Mitología de Cuscatlán, San Salvador, 1919
  5. ^ Restall 2001 pp 116-118
  6. ^ Bible.is: Genesis in Eastern Huasteca Nahuatl, John in Eastern Huasteca Nahuatl, Central Huasteca Nahuatl, Western Huasteca Nahuatl, Northern Puebla Nahuatl, Southeastern Puebla Nahuatl, Highland Puebla Nahuatl, Guerrero Nahuatl, Northern Oaxaca Nahuatl, Tenango Nahuatl.
  7. ^ Catoliscopio: Credo en versión Nahuatl, 5 March 2013.


  • Hvidtfeldt, Arild (1958). Teotl and Ixiptlatli: some central conceptions in ancient Mexican religion: with a general introduction on cult and myth. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  • Miller, Mary; Karl Taube (1993). The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya. London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-05068-6.
  • Townsend, Richard F. (2000). The Aztecs (revised ed.). New York: Thames and Hudson.
  • van Zantwijk,Rudolph (1985). The Aztec Arrangement: The Social History of Pre-Spanish Mexico. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

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