Chalchiuhtotolin the Aztec Turkey God

Let me apologize right off. This page for the most part has no practical information; however since I'm a history buff, I could not resist---A Turkey God!

So If you're interested in turkeys or turkey origins, the following information might be slightly interesting. Or perhaps not.

                                                                                          My version... (above)

I took the artistic license to add the five obsidian tipped arrows

                            A few original samples (below)

Aztec Turkey God Chalchiuhtotolin (Please do not ask me to pronounce the name)

In the vast pantheon of Aztec and Mesoamerican gods there was the turkey & a rather fearsome turkey at that!

Chalchiuhtotolin translated in the Nahuatl language as "Jade Turkey" or "the jeweled turkey".  Other translations of the name are “Exquisite Night Turkey”

 The Exquisite Night Turkey was the god of disease and pestilence

. (Sort of makes sense when you compare the turkey’s bumpy head to the pox or boils.)

Video clip: An unwelcome turkey night visitor

Portrayed as a turkey with beautiful jade markings; however, was a terror to behold---Your village elder wakes up with smallpox? Why the unfortunate must have been visited by the precious night turkey.


Chalchiuhtotolin , the jade night turkey is an alias of Tezcatlipoca, the god of night & obsidian and carries five arrows; so in my turkey drawing I took the artistic license to add five obsidian tipped arrows. (tiny small pox tipped arrows)

         Obsidian blade I Flintknapped

Obsidian sword and speculation on my YouTube Channel

To me there is sort of a problem of having a handsome God of the night and his alias, a jeweled night turkey.----I speculate that one of the two night gods may have been an “older god” of a subjugated peoples or even the embracement of a local popular god by the Aztecs when they were a new people in the Tenotichtlan area—a way to be viewed more “contemporary” by the other inhabitants of Mexico---just speculation---I don’t know.

 In the Aztec calendar, Chalchiuhtotolin had his own station as lord of the thirteen days from 1 Water to 13 Crocodile. (I had first pondered if the 13 could stand for the number of turkey tail feathers; however the preceding thirteen days are ruled over by Xolotl, and the following thirteen by Chantico.

-- Makes me ponder another question: why a god of plagues? What diseases swept Mesoamerica before the arrival of the Spanish? A plague of boils?  Perhaps an earlier wave of European diseases brought by some unfortunate castaway?

Finally I can’t help but wonder what the Aztecs thought when the diseases & plagues conveyed on them by the “Precious Night Turkey” –A trickster God, that brought their kingdom crashing down around them while under simultaneous assault by horse, steel & gunpowder.

Nevertheless, the reputation of god of disease did not seem to affect the popularity of the turkey as food. The conquistador chroniclers noted entire streets set aside for the sale of turkeys and a Franciscan monk after the conquest recorded that over 8000 turkeys were sold every seven days in just one of the suburban markets of the city Tenotichtlan (renamed Mexico City by the winners).

NPR, Ancient Turkey Bones In Mexico Reveal A Strange Relationship With Humans

I made  this chert knife blade--Only coincidence that many of the Aztec sacrificial blades resembled a turkey feather in shape? 

Chalchiuhtotolin Precious Night Turkey

Final random thought:

So at the moment, I seem to be the only person broaching the following subject:

Jade or "Jewled Night Turkey: the description sounds more like the turkey of the Yucatan, the "Ocellated Turkey"

During the Miocene Epoch there were at least 8 different species of turkeys spread across North and Central America.

Only two species of the turkey family have survived to historic times. --The bird we commonly know as the turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) and the Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata) of the forests of the Yucatan and Belize.

The Ocellated Turkey has a head somewhat similar to the North American wild turkey however the feathers by some descriptions resemble that of a peacock: bronze and green iridescent feathers,---I would even say "Jade like"

In at least one of the Mesoamerican drawings, the turkey god has the markings that can be identified as the Ocellated turkey.


Obsidian knife I made, and sunrise through blade and turkey feathers

Me creating an obsidian blade on You Tube

Obsidian blade I chipped with an onlooker!

My replica of an Aztec Obsidian Sword

& My Flint knapping page

Chalchiuhtotolin Precious Night Turkey

The Ais, Native Americans of Kennedy Space Center (link takes you to my other web page)

Return Home from Aztec Turkey God page

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