T welveTHE MEXICA IN TULA AND TULAI N M E X I CO -T E N O C H T I T L A NLeonardo López LujánAlfredo López AustinT H E T O L L A N - Q U E T Z A L C OAT L DYA D I N T H E P O L I T I C A LH I S T O RY O F M E X I C O -T E N O C H T I T L A Nshare an interest regarding a crucialdyad in Mesoamerican history: that of Tollan-Quetzalcoatl. A book on thenature of men-gods appeared more than 30 years ago (López Austin 1973);since then, another has just come out examining the Tenochca imitationof Toltec art (López Luján 2006). More than three decades separate onestudy from the other, and during this time, we have left the subject andreturned to it, both individually and together. There is nothing uniqueabout our keen interest in revealing the mysteries of the Feathered Serpent,the legendary ruler, and the city that oscillates between ecumenical andanecumenical.1 For centuries, countless authors, intrigued by similarenigmas, have come before us, and clearly many will follow us with theirinquiries on this interplay of myth, legend, and history.Saying that the Tollan-Quetzalcoatl dyad is complicated because ofthe impact of politics does not fully explain this concept. The dyad was theideological basis of a widespread political project in Mesoamerica, one thathad been in operation for centuries. We dealt with this subject together inour essay Mito y realidad de Zuyuá [The myth and reality of Zuyuá] (LópezAustin and López Luján 1999, 2000), where we focus on the double figureof Tollan (as an anecumenical dwelling place, where the distinction wasproduced between men prior to their appearance on the surface of theearth and as a prototypical earthly capital), which is a parallel to the doublefigure of Quetzalcoatl (as a generic creator of humanity and as a legendaryruler). During the Epiclassic (A.D. 650–900) and Postclassic (A.D. 900–1521),these double figures served to lay down a political order that justified thenascent power of multi-ethnic, hegemonic, militarized states, capitals ofregional systems competing with one another for control of trade routes.This order—which we have designated by the term “Zuyuan”2—did notThe authors of this chapterPEA-FashB-1st pps.indd 3845/4/2009 2:45:22 PM
THE MEXICA IN TULA AND TULA IN MEXICO-TENOCHTITLANCHARACTERIZATION AS A SOCIO-POLITICALORGANIZATIONexercised control as part of a complex,hegemonic organgoverned populations of different ethnic groupsinhabiting a given regionassigned each subordinate political entity apolitical-economic roleIDEOLOGYThe function of theregime was to maintainpeace and harmonyamong the disparategroups that were areflection of universalorder. In reality, it was anexpansionist militarysystem based on theforced imposition ofharmony.RELATIONS WITHTRADITIONAL FORMS OFORGANIZATION THAT IT HADSUBORDINATED385DIFFERENCES INTRADITIONAL FORMS OFCLASSIC PERIOD POLITICALORGANIZATIONType of multi-ethnicstructureThe old heathen order wasbased on the premise thateach human group hadbeen created by a patrongod who gave them theirethnic identity,religious focus, language, tradition, andprofession. There was a shared essence betweenthe patron god and the human group. Thesovereign was a human being connected to thepatron god and regarded as his intermediary, so hewas considered the elder brother of hissubordinates. The new, multi-ethnic orderpreserved this relationship but imposed acollective, supra-ethnic governing body over it.Type of influence and hegemonic domination ofsome political units over othersThere was a shift from relative disintegrationbased on alliances among the different politicalentities to the imposition of a highly formalizedpolitical-economic structure.Type of bellicose actionThe political emphasis changed to an aggressivemilitaristic system with a well-developed militaryclass.preserved the traditionalethnic internal political orderof each unitsrespected the ideological power bases in each unitsuperimposed a multi-ethnic apparatus as the head of the global organizationSOME SETTINGS IN WHICH ZUYUAN REGIMENS APPEAREDCentral Mexico: Tula, Cholula, and the Basin of MexicoMichoacán: Tarascan stateOaxaca: Mixtec chiefdomsGuatemala Highlands: the Quiches, Cakchiquels, and RabinalsNorthern Yucatán: Chichen ItzaFIGURE 1.regimen.The Zuyuandestroy ancestral political configurations, which were structured aroundethnicity and lineage; on the contrary, it grouped them into larger territorialunits, delegating to them specific governmental functions that pertainedto a more complex state formation. It was an imposed reconstitution—bymilitary force—of the archetypical, globalizing, and legitimating peaceand harmony of the Feathered Serpent and his primordial city (Figure 1).The Zuyuan system differed from the Classic forms of political organization in at least three ways: (1) multi-ethnic structure; (2) hegemonicinfluence and dominion of some political units over others; and (3) bellicosePEA-FashB-1st pps.indd 3855/4/2009 2:45:22 PM
386Leonardo López Luján and Alfredo López Austinaction. The first difference resulted from the combination of two classes ofgovernment: the traditional or gentillic, based on the kingship ties of thecommunity with their patron deities (in each of the units in the politicalsystem), and the global, based on territory. By means of the traditional one,power was exercised over individuals by their ethnic identities, independentof where they were located; in the global one, power was exercised over allsettlements of a territory, independent of their ethnicities. The Zuyuansystem, as discussed below, also tried to resolve the problem of the integration of diverse ethnic groups; but this was done by reducing diversityideologically, using the conception of the essential unit of humankindunder a divine order that had produced several different human groups.The second difference came about because the Zuyuans, in contrast to thosepreceding them, attempted regional dominion through the imposition of athoroughly formalized politico-economic structure. Their confederationsof hegemonic capitals were not merely military alliances, but jurisdictionalorgans of great administrative complexity. The third difference was thatthe Zuyuan system exceeded the limits of Classic period bellicosity, largelybecause it was not only a warrior regime but also a militaristic one.In summary, the Zuyuans constructed a system whose cohesion wasbased on two apparently contradictory principles. On the one hand, theyfollowed and ideological path that was reinforced by maintaining a peace andharmony among peoples that supposedly was a reflection of universal order.On the other hand, Zuyuan states developed powerful military bodies ofcontrol and undertook aggressive campaigns of expansion against weakerstates. The Zuyuan system was an enterprise of enforced harmony.Significantly, the most numerous and important written and pictographic testimonies on the Tollan-Quetzalcoatl dyad come from the Basinof Mexico, a region profoundly influenced by the Mexica-Tenochcas. Thisgroup was immersed in such an accelerated political transformation thatthe successive periods of their history substantially affected their mythicaland religious paradigms, and that of their neighbors. Broadly speaking,this political transformation may be divided into three successive phases.In the first, from the foundation of Mexico-Tenochtitlan until the victoryover Azcapotzalco in A.D. 1430, changes were focused primarily on theconsolidation of the figure of patron god Huitzilopochtli and the transformation of the offering he made to his people during the search for thepromised land. The great power of the god Tezcatlipoca must have fusedin the patron god with fiery, celestial, astral, solar, and warrior attributes;the original gifts of the minacachalli and the chitatli used by lake fishermenand hunters3 must have been exchanged for the darts of warfare and thedreams of glory, power, and wealth of those who wield arms on a divinemission (López Austin 1973: 176–177).In the second phase, from the victory over Azcapotzalco and the recon-PEA-FashB-1st pps.indd 3865/4/2009 2:45:22 PM
THE MEXICA IN TULA AND TULA IN MEXICO-TENOCHTITLAN387stitution of the Triple Alliance (excan tlatoloyan) until the establishment ofsupremacy over their allies around A.D. 1486, the Mexica fully embracedthe Zuyuan ideological context with supreme status as heirs to historical Tula in Hidalgo:4 with their allies Tetzcoco and Tlacopan, they wereprivileged to receive the power of Quetzalcoatl. In the third phase, fromthe beginning of their exclusive hegemony to the Spanish conquest of A.D.1521, they turned their back on the Zuyuan order. The proud Mexica recovered supreme control for their god Huitzilopochtli, and they put an end toTetzcocan aspirations, subjecting this powerful ally to the new victoriousideology of the patron god of Tenochtitlan.As is well known, ideology responds at each moment in history to thespecific needs of political action, consolidation, and justification. However,when historical transformations are sudden, both ideological adjustmentand reconfiguration are complex—even more so if the ideological baseis composed of deeply rooted ancient traditions, religious dogmas, andmythical accounts. Following the ideas of Fernand Braudel (1974: 60–106)on this point, the historical rhythms governing politics, morality, religiousbeliefs, and myths are different; the lag brought about by distinct levels ofresistance to change often produce a breakdown between political actionand its intellectual underpinning (López Austin 1992).Another problem faces societies that must adapt their ideologies as aresult of sudden transformations of their historical-political contexts. Thenew ideology must convince all members of an increasingly heterogeneoussociety in which there are diverse interests, tendencies, and plans in life.The degree of penetration of the new ideas varied among the privileged andthe dispossessed, the cultivated and the uncultivated, and young and old:some were more profoundly immersed in traditional discourse, in createdinterests, or in consolidated beliefs, and others were more hopeful at theprospect of favorable transformation.However, the ideological discourse was not uniformly embraced in time,as it was unable to completely replace what had been proclaimed in earliertimes. Even in texts from the corpus of official history, ideas from differentideological eras overlapped, replete with incongruities, contradictions, andanachronisms. The rapid transformation of the Mexica—from immigrantsin a highly complex political scene to their swift ascent to hegemonicpreeminence—produced great difficulties in generating a seamless adjustment between politics and ideology. The historiographic inconsistenciesof Mexica documentary sources are a field ripe for modern researchers,because they facilitate heuristic study. Thus reinterpretations and modifications of historical discourse at times are conspicuous as touched-up patchesthat affect the coherence of the exposition, providing clues that shed lighton the time frames of revisions. Reading Mexica historical texts, one canperceive the different faces of the patron god, the various promises at thePEA-FashB-1st pps.indd 3875/4/2009 2:45:23 PM
388Leonardo López Luján and Alfredo López Austinoutset of the migration, or the disparate lines of reasoning used to justifytheir subjugation and domination of other groups.In this chapter we analyze the ideological relations between the mythical and legendary images of Tollan and the reality of Tenochtitlan as acapital that needed to provide justification for its hegemony at the end ofthe Late Postclassic. For purposes of the present discussion, we first adopta list of ideological complexes as a guide that in our opinion is prominentthroughout Mexica history. These are then related to the activities undertaken by the Mexica in the ruins of Tula and at their own capital, actionswith great political weight and by which they attempted to link the imagesof anecumenical Tollan and those of archaeological Tula with the realityand representations of Tenochtitlan.IDEOLOG ICAL COMPLE XE SWithout attempting to provide an exhaustive list of the different aspectsof the Tollan-Quetzalcoatl dyad in the history of Tenochtitlan, we nowenumerate the main ideological complexes to properly contextualize theproblem at hand. In this case, an ideological complex is a structured groupof ideas, beliefs, principles, and values used independently of its origins orcharacter as a basis to justify, consolidate, or legitimate a political action.Mythical Origins of the Human RaceMesoamerican cosmovision was developed over the centuries until the LatePostclassic, when it was converted into a complex of central, structuringcomponents highly resistant to change, and they served as a basis for actionsand conceptions more susceptible to social and political transformations.These elements formed part of what we have referred to in other worksas the núcleo duro, or “resistant core” (López Austin 2001). Based on thisnucleus, one of the fundamental contradictions concerning the origins andnature of humans was effectively resolved, for paradoxically the human racewas unitarily conceived as one species, yet diversified because of its ethnicdifferences. As the essential unity and diversity of man, the solution wasthe interplay of two successive processes of mythical birth: a unitary god bythe name of Quetzalcoatl created all of humanity; but the division of thegod, conceived of as different deities, produced the protagonists of a secondtype of origin myth. This type of creation gave particular characteristicsto each human group at the time of their appearance in the world (Figure2). Thus the god Quetzalcoatl was the creator of humans in general, andTollan, his anecumenical kingdom, was the dwelling place where humansto be born were transformed into their diverse ethnic identities. Whenthe different groups of people had to leave the mythical city to populatePEA-FashB-1st pps.indd 3885/4/2009 2:45:23 PM
THE MEXICA IN TULA AND TULA IN MEXICO-TENOCHTITLAN389FIGURE 2 . Transitionbetween unity anddiversity in divine andearthly realms.the world, they left at the instructions of Quetzalcoatl (sometimes in hisguise as Nacxit), presided over by their respective patron gods and endowedwith languages, customs, and crafts that from that time forward woulddistinguish them (see Sahagún 2000, bk. VI, chap. xxix, par. 1: 949–954;Popol Vuh 1964: 107–112; Título de Totonicapán 1983: 174–175; Memorial deSololá 1950: 47–57; López Austin and López Luján 1999: 51–55, 2000).Earthly PrototypeThe myths of a creator god of humanity and of an anecumenical kingdomfrom which the diversity of humankind was brought forth provided thenecessary elements to forge the legend of the ruler Quetzalcoatl and hisearthly Tula. Thus, in the transition from myth to legend, the idea of aprototypical city arose, a city that was a marvelous place, inhabited by thetotality of human races, who spoke the same language and were skilled inall mechanical arts (Sahagún 2000, bk. X, chap. xxix, par. 1: 949–953), forthese crafts had been invented by Quetzalcoatl himself (Sahagún 2000,bk. III, chap. iii: 308). The texts tell of the legendary Tula as a place ofabundant fertility and wealth (Anales de Cuauhtitlán 1945: 8; Sahagún 2000,bk. III, chap. iii: 308–309, bk. X, chap. xxix, par. 1: 949–952). The biographyconstructed of its ruler Quetzalcoatl portrayed him as full of virtues, andat his dwelling place, four palaces were erected of precious materials; theirrole as cosmic trees was revealed through their four colors (Sahagún 2000,bk. X, chap. xxix, par. 1: 950–951; Anales de Cuauhtitlán 1945: 8).The exuberance and splendor of the Toltecs described in these sourceshave given rise to highly diverse interpretations. Even in the sixteenth century, Sahagún stated that Quetzalcoatl was a figure akin to King ArthurPEA-FashB-1st pps.indd 3895/4/2009 2:45:27 PM
390Leonardo López Luján and Alfredo López Austinof English legends (2000, bk. VIII, prologue: 719–720), and the Toltecswere the Trojans of the New World (2000, bk. X, chap. xxix, par. 1: 949).Today some authors see more of a historical description than a legendaryconstruction in these texts (e.g., Feldman 1974: 140–141, fig. 39; Diehl 1983:60). There are even those who believe that Toltec exuberance is an idealized reflection of the fertile lowlands of eastern Mexico, inhabited by theOlmec-Xicalanca (Duverger 1983: 212–224). Davies (1974: 111, 1977: 14–18),one of the most meticulous historians of the Toltecs, sees a generalizedconception in descriptions of Tollan as Chicomoztoc or Quinehuayan,the universal point of origin of all peoples, which was transformed intoan abstraction that may be found not only at Tula in Hidalgo but alsoanywhere in Mesoamerica. In our opinion the marvelous city and its rulermust be sought in the imagining of an otherworld.According to legend, harmony and wealth came to an end: in the beginning of this world, in the light of the dawn, before the sun rose, humanityhad to abandon the city and splintered into multiple groups, each onedistinguished by its language, patron god, and a specific trade among thediversity of arts.Sacred Character of the SettlementIn the Mesoamerican past, archaeological sites seem to reflect the supernatural force of its former inhabitants, beings of an earlier world that gaverise to the present one, one that remains latent beneath the worked surfacesof stones. Teotihuacan was the most conspicuous case, and its ceremonialcenter was regarded as the setting for the creation of the stars and a burialplace worthy of kings (López Luján 1989: 43–49; Matos Moctezuma andLópez Luján 1993: 157–159; Sahagún 2000, bk. 10, chap. 29, par. 14: 974–975).Archaeological Tula, although much later and quite modest in comparisonto the great capital of the Classic period, was also regarded as a site chargedwith divine power. We know of its fame in the Late Postclassic, but mostlikely in its own time Tula fulfilled the function of a sacred city, a mundanereplica of the anecumenical Tollan, just as Cholula in Puebla and other cities did in their respective eras. Its ruins were occupied, and its monumentswere exhumed and new offerings were deposited in them, all as recognitionof having been the home of the portentous ruler Quetzalcoatl.Transfer of the Sacred CharacterThe image of anecumenical Tollan imbued sacred character to its earthlyreplicas. Therefore, in its capacity as mundane Tollan, Cholula was converted into a sacred city with sufficient divine faculties to sanctify recentlyelected rulers, who turned to it in search of confirmation of their authorityPEA-FashB-1st pps.indd 3905/4/2009 2:45:27 PM
THE MEXICA IN TULA AND TULA IN MEXICO-TENOCHTITLAN391(Rojas 1985: 130–132). After their decline the Tollans of this world retainedthe hierophantic power that permeated their archaeological remains. Thosewho kept the memory of the glory of these cities of yore in their tradition tended to visit ruins imbued with supernatural power, and there theyperformed cult acts demanded by their devotion (e.g., Castañeda 1986: 235–236). There was another method of harnessing that force: by taking controlof the sacred matter. Each object that had been used in the city’s heydayhad absorbed sacred power, and thus it became a highly prized object thatcould be transported and reused (López Luján 1989: 25–36, 2002: 24–27;López Luján et al. 2000; Matos Moctezuma and López Luján 1993: 161–165). Therefore the ruins of the legendary Tula were stripped of many of itsancient objects. Charged with numinous power, they were transported todifferent locations, where their function as offerings was rehabilitated innew contexts.Sacred character cannot be reduced to relics that had once formed partof the setting of a hierophany. According to Mesoamerican belief, theforms of the di
Alfredo López Austin TWELVE PEA-FashB-1st_pps.indd 384 5/4/2009 2:45:22 PM. THE MEXICA IN TULA AND TULA IN MEXICO-TENOCHTITLAN 385 destroy ancestral political configurations, which were structured around ethnicity and lineage; on the contrary, it grouped them into larger territorial units, delegating to them specific governmental functions that pertained to a more complex state formation. It .
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