The ceremony of the New Fire was one of the most important ceremonies in the Mexica world. Each 52 years a cycle was finished and at the end of which all the fires in the dominions of the empire were put out. At the moment of the evening twilight, the priests of fire climbed to the top of the Huixachtécatl hill (today known as Cerro de la Estrella) located in Iztapalapa, 8 kilometers away from the city of Tenochtitlan. Each priest used to carry a bunch of 52 tied sticks, called xiuhmolpilli (“tying of years”), which symbolized this period of time, that is conceptually equivalent to our century. In the middle of the darkness, they lighted a great blaze on the chest of a captive to burn these bunches of sticks in it. Then, they lighted torches with this new fire and ran to distribute it to all the places as a symbol of renewal. This figure of stone is the symbolic representation of a xiuhmolpilli, in which we can see the sticks tied at the ends with cords and three glyphs engraved on their surface. The date “2 reed”, year of the celebration of this ritual (1507) is on the main face, celebrated during the reign of Motecuhzoma II; on one of the ends there is the sign “1 death”, calendar name of Tezcatlipoca and on the other, the glyph “1 flint”, associated with Huitzilopochtli, patron God of the Mexicas. Arqlga. Bertina Olmedo Vera


  • Title: Xiuhmolpilli
  • Creator: unknown
  • Date Created: 1250/1500
  • Physical Location: México
  • Physical Dimensions: h610 x d266 cm (complete)
  • Period: Posclásico Tardío (1250-1521 d.C.)
  • Centro Histórico, Ciudad de México: Mexica
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia., INAH. Proyecto de Digitalización de las Colecciones Arqueológicas del Museo Nacional de Antropología. CONACULTA-CANON-MNA.
  • External Link: http://www.mna.inah.gob.mx
  • Medium: Basalto

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