Getting under their skins

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    This sculpture shows Xipe Totec, the ‘Flayed One’, the Aztec god of spring renewal, dressed in the facial and body skin of a sacrificial victim.


    Figure 1

    In Aztec rituals, priests impersonated the god by wearing the skins of flayed victims. “The bizarre yet apt metaphor of a flayed skin for spring seems quintessentially Aztec: from death and macabre horror life is reborn.” The Almanac calendar dictated the timing of rituals From Spirits of the Jaguar: The Natural History and Ancient Civilizations of the Caribbean and Central America by Paul Reddish (BBC/Parkwest, £18.99, $32.95), the book that accompanies the BBC television series of the same name.

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