Deer in Ancient Mexico

Deer was an important part of the Anahuac, Ancient Mexico not only as a source of food, but also the use of its skin and presence in ancient lore.

Photo and text by Miguel Omaña.

Although we know deer was hunted by several groups, its use was not only confined as nourishment. Deer hide was used as a canvas of the Mexicans of old. With its skin, maps and even books were produced. Even though paper existed (many pose the Chinese and Egyptians invented paper, but ancient Mexicans also used a paper called amatl) deer hide was used to paint cartography, history, genealogies, and numerous stories. Sadly much of it was lost.

Its presence was also important in the cosmology of the ancient peoples of the Anahuac and the Mayaab’. For instance, there was a day in the Mexica calendar called mazatl (deer in English). Because calendars where pan-Anahuac — used by different nations — the deer day was present widely. As such, the day was represented with the glyph or symbol of a deer. And if they appear in the also known as Aztec calendar, I pose they ought to be considered as one of the most mexican symbols (like eagles, snakes, and even earthquakes – which also appear in our calendars!).

White tail deer, at Laredo, Texas.
White tail deer, at Laredo, Texas. Copyright 2014 Miguel Omaña.

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