M

Figure 12.15. The possible eclipse symbols of the Borgia codex, in chronological sequence, compared with glyphs of known eclipses in the Telleriano-Remensis codex. Diagram by Sharon Hanna.

Figure 12.15. The possible eclipse symbols of the Borgia codex, in chronological sequence, compared with glyphs of known eclipses in the Telleriano-Remensis codex. Diagram by Sharon Hanna.

that the series had to start with 2—an argument that DHK finds completely unconvincing.

A more promising approach to interpretation is provided by the similarity of the depictions to those used by the Aztecs for eclipses. In the Aztec Telleriano-Remensis codex, eclipses are depicted, as shown in Figure 12.15, where "A" represents the eclipse for 1476, "B" that for 1496, and "C" that for 1507. The eclipse of 1496 is particularly interesting, because the stars are indicated as being visible. Note also that the Moon is depicted as a crescent, presumably to indicate only that the eclipsing body is the Moon. The Borgia codex sequence may represent a series of potential eclipses determined by the 520-day (double) tonalpohualli intervals. If so, the preceding 260-day tonalpohualli, which also contains these possible eclipse depictions, may somehow represent the missing 1st component. The two half-darkened suns are with the trecenas beginning 1 Jaguar (days 14-26) and 1 Twisted (days 92-104). However, if the table is repeated once, the 1 Jaguar sequence is 274-286 from the base; hence, days 97-104, are separated by 177 days or one normal eclipse interval, from days 274 to 281. The trecena associated with 1 Twisted is ruled by the goddess Mayauel (identified in Table 12.7b as an eclipse season goddess) facing a drinking companion. This depiction coincides completely in concept with the 25 pairs, and DHK thinks it should be considered the base of the series. Moreover, 1 Jaguar heads the trecena containing 9 Wind, the day of Quetzalcoatl, who is shown as the lord of this trecena. In the Madrid codex, 9 Wind is associated with the feathered serpent and with an eclipse glyph. DHK had supposed that the eclipse was particularly associated with another date in that column of the Madrid, but the presence of a half-darkened Sun here suggests that a more complex interpretation may ultimately be needed. Thus, the symbolism of the half-darkened Sun with stars, used among the Aztecs to denote eclipses, is here associated with possible eclipse intervals and with deities previously associated with eclipses.

Two tonalpohualli total 520 days and three eclipse half-years of 173.31 days total 519.93 days, so that if a tonalpo-hualli begins near an eclipse, all subsequent dates that are even multiples of 260 from the base will be near an eclipse also; moreover, no odd multiples of 260 can be near an eclipse, in agreement with the inferred pattern of Figure 12.15. The most notable support for this interpretation comes from the representation of the pair numbered 18. Rather than the usual half-darkened Sun, this shows a Moon with a knife in it. If the number 18 connotes an interval equal to the number of 260-day periods, it represents an interval of 4680 days. Spinden (1930, p. 56) drew attention to this interval, which is equivalent to 13 Maya tuns (13 x 360d = 4680d), as an ideal interval between a solar eclipse and a following lunar eclipse, which would fall on the same name day.

The reason for this circumstance is that 4680 days is nearly 27 eclipse half-years (from node to node, 4679.35 days), whereas the interval is close to 158V2 synodic months (4680.45 days, within 2 days of node passage). Thus, beginning at a new Moon, we arrive at a full Moon at the end of the interval, and if there is a solar eclipse at the beginning of the interval, there will be a lunar eclipse at the end of it. The knife in the Moon would be an appropriate metaphor for a lunar eclipse, also corresponding to the Nuttall codex representation of the knife with a goddess, presumably lunar (see §12.17).

The table is completed with the 25 th pair (labeled "26"). Again, if 26 represents a sum of tonalpohuallis, it stands for an interval of 6760 days, or 18.508 tropical years, so that the remainder (185.6 days) is approximately the interval between opposing seasons, like that from spring to fall equinox. This creates a structure similar to the Dresden codex eclipse table, in which 11960d = 32.745y = 32y 272.2d. The approximately three-quarters of a year remainder is like the interval between fall equinox and summer solstice. It is a matter for further investigation if the Borgia table was intended to function at a particular, specified date, or intended to be generalized. The absence of any day names in the table may suggest the latter. However, a tonalpohualli beginning on 1 Crocodile is found adjacent to the table, and it may have been intended to function as a not completely hidden zero and first repetition of the count, in which case, 1 Crocodile would have been the intended beginning point.

Among the Aztecs, the monstrous Tzitzimime descend threateningly from the sky at the time of eclipses and are said to control rains, water, thunder, and lightning. Their leader is Tzontemoc, "Head Down," an equivalent of Mictlan Tecuhtli, "Lord of Death," descending as a spider from the sky. Tezcatlipoca ("Smoking Mirror") is also said to have descended from the sky on a rope of spiderweb. The Tzitzimime were sometimes regarded as a single figure, sometimes as four (identified in that case with the supporters of the sky, whose failure caused the flood) and sometimes seven. In the month of Quecholli, the feast of Mixcoatl celebrated the descent of the following gods who were stars: Yacatecuhtli, Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, Ce Acatl, Quetzalcoatl, Achitumetl, Zacopancalqui, Mixcoatl, and Tezcatlipoca. The calendar name Ce Acatl is usually assigned to Quetzalcoatl, and Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, Lord of the House of Dawn, is a name often equated with Venus and with Quetzalcoatl. These statements suggest that all of these gods may have planetary identities and that their descent is on the spider rope (or path) (Thompson 1934, especially, pp. 228-230; Brundage 1979, pp. 62, 69), which in turn suggests that the spider web defines the band near the ecliptic in which the planets move.

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