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MCotD: Ahuizotl

Today we go travel in time to mesoamerica to the culture of the Aztecs to catch a glimpse of the Ahuizotl (ah-WEE-zah-tol)

The Ahuizotl is a water beast; half dog, half monkey, with a hand protruding from the end of its tail. The Ahuizotl is greatly feared due to its liking for human flesh, especially nails, eyes, and teeth, but leaving the rest of the body untouched. It generally lives in or near the water and uses the hand on the end of its tail to snatch and drown its prey. The Ahuizotl is also known to resort to making cries not unlike a human baby in order to lure its prey closer to the water.

Known as a guardian of lakes, ancient Aztecs believed that the Ahuizotl's primary function was to protect the fish therein. This task made it a natural adversary to fishermen, whose primary source of sustenance was rich aquatic stock of their homeland. Legends quickly sprang up in the fishing villages of the area regarding the Ahuizotl's attempts to sink any boat found fishing near its aquatic home. These fishermen attempted to quell this sub-aquatic predator by offering back portions of their catch. This effort met with only a modicum of success.

As if the fishermen's situation weren't dire enough, it would seem that people on land were no safer than those on boats, as it soon became apparent that the animal would not hesitate to use its claw-like tail to grasp at the ankles of those unsuspecting men, women and children who stood too close to the edge of the water. In this fashion, more than one unwary traveler was snatched from their dry perch and plunged into the brownish depths to await their horrific fate.

The Ahuizotl appears in a set of 12 ancient books collectively called the Florentine Codex. Created under the supervision of Bernardino de Sahagún somewhere between 1540 and 1585, it copies original source myths from records of conversations and interviews with indigenous sources in Tlatelolco, Texcoco, and Tenochtitlan.

In the codex, it states:

"...very like the teui, the small teui dog; small and smooth, shiny. It has small, pointed ears, just like a small dog. It is black, like rubber; smooth, slippery, very smooth, longtailed. And its tail is provided with a hand at the end; just like a human hand is the point of its tail. And its hands are like a raccoon's hands or like a monkey's hands. It lives, it is a dweller in watery caverns, in watery depths. And if anyone arrives there at its entrance, or there in the water where it is, it then grabs him there. It is said that it sinks him, it plunges him into the water; it carries him to its home, it introduces him to the depths; so its tail goes holding him, so it goes seizing him ... the one it has drowned no longer has his eyes, his teeth, and his nails; it has taken them all from him. But his body is completely unblemished, his skin uninjured. Only his body comes out all slippery-wet; as if one had pounded it with a stone; as if it had inflicted small bruises ... When it was annoyed - had caught no one, had drowned none of us commoners - then was heard as if a small child wept. And he who heard it thought perhaps a child wept, perhaps a baby, perhaps an abandoned one. Moved by this, he went there to look for it. So there he fell into the hands of the auítzotl, there it drowned him..."



Feb. 27th, 2008 05:18 pm (UTC)
freaky little critter.
Me likey.

Wonder how many more monkey hybrids we can find for this week? ^_^
Feb. 27th, 2008 05:20 pm (UTC)
yeah, especially the part where it can cry like a baby.

i wish we would have thought of this on monday and we could have ran with it as a theme.
Feb. 27th, 2008 06:18 pm (UTC)

...and don't forget the kappa.

...or the man-monkey of Delhi

Edited at 2008-02-27 06:21 pm (UTC)