To the Aztecs of central Mexico, Tlaloc was a god of rain and fertility. Associated with lightning, thunder, and vegetation, he appeared as a man with circles around his eyes and fangs like the teeth of a jaguar. Tlaloc shared the main temple in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán with the gods Quetzalcoatl and Huitzilopochtli. The Maya of Mesoamerica called Tlaloc Chac, and the Quiché of Guatemala knew him as Tohil.

Tlaloc had both helpful and harmful aspects. He carried four water jugs: one gave rain, but the others poured disease, frost, and drought onto the world. He and his wife, Chalchiuhtlicue, supervised the Tlaloque, spirits in charge of weather and mountains. The Tlaloque delivered rain to the earth and produced thunder by clashing their water jugs together.

Like other Aztec deities, Tlaloc required human sacrifice. Priests sacrificed children to him during the dry season. According to tradition, if the victims cried during the proceedings, their tears were a sign of plentiful rain to come.

Mesoamerica cultural region consisting of southern Mexico and northern regions of Central America

One level of the Aztec heavens was named Tlalocan after the god. It was a place of abundant vegetation and everlasting spring. The souls of the dead who were sacred to Tlaloc—victims of drowning, lightning, and certain diseases such as leprosy—went to this lush garden paradise.

See also Aztec Mythology ; Huitzilopochli ; Mayan Mythology ; Quetzalcoatl .

* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

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