From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

In Aztec mythology and among present-day Nahuas, Tonantzin /tonanˈtsiːn/ is believed to refer to Mother Earth.


Goddesses such as "Mother Earth", the "Goddess of Sustenance", "Honored Grandmother", "Snake", "Bringer of Maize" and "Mother of Corn" can all be called Tonantzin. Other indigenous names include Chicomexochitl[pronunciation?] ("Seven Flowers") and Chalchiuhcihuatl[pronunciation?] ("Woman of Precious Stone"). A Tonantzin was honored during the movable feast of Xochilhuitl [/soˈʒiːwɪtəl/]. Some claim that upon appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the hill of Tepeyac where Tonantzin's temple had been burnt by the Spanish priests, the natives accepted Our Lady of Guadalupe as Tonantzin.

Alleged syncretism[edit]

Mexico City's 17th-century Basilica of Guadalupe—built in honor of the Virgin and perhaps Mexico's most important religious building—was constructed at the base of the hill of Tepeyac, believed to be a site used for pre-Columbian worship of Tonantzin. The word Guadalupe may derive from Coatlaxopeuh, meaning “the one who crushes the serpent”, and thus perhaps relates etymologically to Quetzalcoatl, the word for the feathered serpent itself.

Modern usage[edit]

Tonantzin is sometimes used as a female given name; actress Tonantzin Carmelo is an example. Tona, Tonzi, Toni, and Nantzin are possible nicknames.

In the comic series Love and Rockets by Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez, Tonantzin is a central character in Gilbert's world of Palomar. The character is often connected to the Aztec Goddess.


  • González, Ondina E. and Justo L. González, Christianity in Latin America: a history, p. 59, Cambridge University Press, 2008