Teaching Students About the Aztec Goddess of Beauty


The rich cultural heritage of ancient civilizations offers endless avenues for exploration and education. For students studying the Aztec Empire, one such avenue is the study of their mythology and deities. Xochiquetzal, the Aztec goddess of beauty, love, art, and fertility, is a fascinating figure who provides valuable insights into Aztec society. In this article, we will outline various aspects of Xochiquetzal’s narrative and offer teaching strategies to help students understand and appreciate her significance within the Aztec pantheon.

Xochiquetzal: The Goddess of Beauty, Love, Art, and Fertility

As a multifaceted figure in the Aztec religion, Xochiquetzal (meaning “precious flower” or “flower feather”) embodies various aspects of life and culture. Referred to as the patroness of artisans, women in childbirth, prostitutes, and lovers alike, Xochiquetzal is at once a symbol of sexuality and sensuality as well as a divine protector. Often depicted adorned with flowers and butterflies to symbolize her association with abundance and growth, she is also seen carrying a shield and totem pole to showcase her courageousness.

Teaching Strategies

1. Convey Multiple Perspectives: As in comparable deities across world mythologies, Xochiquetzal represents both nurturing and destructive characteristics. Educators should emphasize this duality to highlight historical cultural values that are often unfamiliar to contemporary students. Furthermore, they might draw parallels between Xochiquetzal’s roles with figures from other pantheons (e.g., Aphrodite) to illustrate the universality of these themes.

2. Engage in Visual Analysis: One way for students to learn about Xochiquetzal is by examining artifacts such as ceramic pottery figures depicting her image or architectural examples featuring her characteristics. By analyzing these visual representations holistically, they can discern Xochiquetzal’s significance within the Aztec pantheon as well as understand how her depictions changed over time.

3. Examine Primary Sources: In order to understand the cultural impact of Xochiquetzal, students should be exposed to primary sources such as the Codex Borgia, an ancient Aztec illuminated manuscript that features numerous images of the goddess. Translations of Nahuatl poetry that describe her beauty and power can also provide students with a more authentic understanding of her role in Aztec society.

4. Create Art Inspired by Xochiquetzal: Encourage students to create their own artistic interpretations of the goddess by drawing, painting, or constructing sculptures. This hands-on activity allows them to immerse themselves in her mythology and build a personal connection with Xochiquetzal.


The study of Xochiquetzal provides an engaging opportunity for students to delve into the unique mythology, religion, and culture of the ancient Aztec Empire. By exploring her various roles, visual representations, and primary sources, educators can create a well-rounded educational experience that builds empathy and understanding between different cultures and time periods.

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