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Literally, ‘smoking mirror’. His name refers to the black obsidian mirror when used by Aztec magicians to descry the future. Tezcatlipoca had several aspects: he was the patron of warriors and identified with Huitzilopochtli; he was the original sun knocked out of the sky and turned into a tiger by Quetzalcoatl; he was a trickster god associated with witches, thieves, and evildoers in general; and, not least, he was an all-powerful deity who could take or give life. Details survive of a custom whereby a youth impersonated Tezcatlipoca for a year and then was ritually killed in the spring, his heart being offered to the sun.

Subjects: Religion — History of the Americas.

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