HUITZILOPOCHTLI, the supreme being in the religions of ancient Mexico, and as a specialized deity, the god of war. He was the mythic leader and chief divinity of the Aztecs, dominant tribe of the Nahua nation. As a humming-bird Huitzilopochtli was alleged to have led the Aztecs toanewhome. E. B. Tylor (Primitive Culture, 4th ed., vol. ii. p. 307) calls him an " inextricable compound parthenogenetic deity "; and' finds, in the fact that his chief festival (when his paste idol was shot through with an arrow, and afterwards eaten) was at the winter solstice, ground for believing that he was at first a nature-god, whose life and death were connected with the year's. His idol was a huge block of basalt (still thought to be preserved in Mexico) , on one side of which he is sculptured in hideous form, adorned with the feathers of the humming-bird. The ceremonies of his worship were of the most bloodthirsty character, and hundreds of human beings were murdered annually before his shrine, their limbs being eaten by his worshippers. When his temple was dedicated in 1486 it is traditionally reported that 70,000 people were killed. See MEXICO.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)