Page:Notes of the Mexican war 1846-47-48.djvu/571

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NOTES OF THE MEXICAN WAR.

crane with his outspread wings, holding in his claws a small bird with curious feathers, looking up towards the sun; whereupon the tribes with all speed went to work in 1325, and built a chapel, or teoculli, of turf and clods of earth, covered it with canes to keep their idol from the exposure of the weather, and at the same time promising him that they would sometime build him a splendid temple or teoculli (abode of the gods). In a few years afterward the Aztecs did build Temple Turrest, and many handsome houses in the city of Mexico. The temple was a magnificent and gigantic building. It measured at the base 375 feet by 300 feet, and was 80 feet in height. It commanded the four great highways, east, west, north and south, that led into the heart of the city. In fact, the whole structure was like a huge living serpent, dome-shaped and carved; and the doorway was through the jaws of the serpent, built inside with terraces from four to nine, connected with stairs in a circuit form from one story to another until it reached the summit, on top of which was a stone of sacrifice about 3 feet high. This temple was christened, and enshrined the two great national deities, viz., Witzilopochtli (or Viztliputlic) and Tezcatlipoca. The former was the celestial humming-bird, offspring of the sun and symbol of the Aztec people; Tezcatlipoca, the little humming-bird, or portable idol of the original wandering tribes, whose image was carried by the priest as he led the charge. After his (Tezcatlipoca) death, his statue was made of dark obsidian rock. His face was the face of a bear; his hair was plaited and inclosed in a golden net, and was worshipped as the god of the sun, which was their whole religion.

In 1353 they elected their first king over the whole tribes then encamped in the valley of Mexico. The king's name was Acampichtli. The king immediately entered upon his duty, and enlarged the city of Tenustitan (now Mexico) with fine houses, temples and a splendid palace (it is said) on the very spot where the National Palace or Halls of the Montezumas now stands; widening the streets and vast other improvement.