QUESTION: Who was Tlaloc?


The Aztec god Tlaloc was believed to be the god of rain, fertility, and lightning. He was one of the three main gods of the Aztec’s being Tlaloc, Huitzilopochtli, and Quetzalcoatl. Tlaloc was considered a beneficent god but was also greatly feared for he could cause floods, drought, or fling lightening throughout the land. He could send torrential rains, hurricanes, and instigate hunger with his powers if he was angry. Tlaloc was also sometimes called Nahuatl (meaning one who makes things sprout). He is often shown with very large bulging eyes, long fangs, and wearing a net of clouds. Tlaloc wears a headdress of heron feathers, carries rattles used to make the thunder, and sports foam sandals.

To appease this god, the Aztec people would offer up human sacrifices; in Tlaloc’s case it was usually children. The priest would however, would collect the tears of these young terrified victims as an additional offering. He would sometimes make them cry more through tortures like pulling out their nails. The tears were seen as rain, so the more they cried the better the season of rainfall. Parents saw the sacrifice of their children as an honor; other children were those taken captive from outside villages. Whichever the case, the important thing was to keep Tlaloc happy. By doing so, they believed they were provided the rains to produce healthy crops. Anyone who died from drowning, dropsy, lightning or anything else associated with water was thought to pass on to a place called Tlacocan, the paradise of fertility in the tallest mountain where Tlaloc lived and clouds were formed.

Great importance was given to the direction of the rains sent by Tlaloc.
  • Western rain was red from the setting sun and represented autumn.
  • Southern rain represented the green fertility of summer and growth
  • Eastern rain was golden, nourishing the crops of Spring and promising life.
  • Northern rain contained hail and thunder bringing the warnings of destruction. Snow and hail storms were believed to contain and represent the bones of the dead.
The Aztec’s so honored this god that they built a temple for him in Tenochtitlan next to the great temple for the god Huitzilopochtli. They created an image of Tlaloc adorned with a string of green beads called chalchihuitl (jade). On this idol, he wore bracelets of precious gems and gold. It is said there were no other idols decorated with as many jewels in this entire Mexican region. In fact, there is a large stone idol or statue of Tlaloc that stands today outside of the National Museum of Anthropology and History in Mexico City.

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