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Originally posted by Kantzveldt
Mictlantecuhtli (Nahuatl pronunciation: [miktɬaːnˈtekʷtɬi], meaning "Lord of Mictlan"), in Aztec mythology, was a god of the dead and the king of Mictlan (Chicunauhmictlan), the lowest and northernmost section of the underworld. He was one of the principal gods of the Aztecs and was the most prominent of several gods and goddesses of death and the underworld The worship of Mictlantecuhtli sometimes involved ritual cannibalism, with human flesh being consumed in and around the temple
Mictlantecuhtli was depicted as a blood-spattered skeleton or a person wearing a toothy skull. Although his head was typically a skull, his eye sockets did contain eyeballs. His headdress was shown decorated with owl feathers and paper banners, and he wore a necklace of human eyeballs, while his earspools were made from human bones
In Aztec mythology, after Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca created the world, they put their creation in order and placed Mictlantecuhtli and his wife in the underworld.
According to Aztec legend, the twin gods Quetzalcoatl and Xolotl were sent by the other gods to steal the bones of the previous generation of gods from Mictlantecuhtli. The god of the underworld sought to block Quetzalcoatl's escape with the bones and, although he failed, he forced Quetzalcoatl to drop the bones, which were scattered and broken by the fall. The shattered bones were collected by Quetzalcoatl and carried back to the land of the living, where the gods transformed them into the various races of mortals.
When a person died, they were interred with grave goods, which they carried with them on the long and dangerous journey to the underworld. Upon arrival in Mictlan these goods were offered to Mictlantecuhtli and his wife
This teponaztli is the only known example that represents a horned owl, here carved on the front of the drum. Owls were considered to be creatures of ill omen. Their presence and nocturnal calls were believed to foretell death or misfortune. Owls were also associated with Mictlantecuhtli, the Lord of the Underworld, and with the powers of darkness. Since the owl was supposed to serve as a messenger to Mictlantecuhtli, it has been suggested that this particular teponaztli could have been use in funerary ceremonies.