Saturday, April 22, 2006

Curse of Tlaloc: Torrential Downpours over Mexico City (1964)


When we were children, my father would tell us a story he had heard from a cab driver during a visit to Mexico. We would listen in awe to the tale of Tlaloc, the huge stone statue of the Aztec God of Rain, and what an unbelievable amount of rain had poured on the very same day it was moved into Mexico City. It was, according to the driver, the idol's curse for being removed from San Miguel Coatlinchan, the small village where it had been concealed for centuries. Naturally I was quite tickled by the 'curse of Tlaloc' story, then forgot about it for several years and then, a few months ago, decided to do some research into it. Was there any truth to the Tlaloc deluge urban myth?

Here's the story of the rainy curse of Tlaloc, Lord of the Tecomates, as reported by diverse sources:

'At the entrance [of the National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City] is an imposing statue of Tlaloc, the Aztec god of rain. They say that on the day it was brought to its current location, an unforgettable, torrential rain fell on Mexico City... '

'...Also at the entrance is a massive statue of Tlaloc, the god of rain. It weighs 167 tons and stands 23 feet high. The legend is that when the statue was brought to the museum telephone and electrical wires en route all had to be raised or removed so the special trailer could get through the city streets. And even though this move was made in the dry season, a thunderstorm took place during the journey. Such is the power of gods.'

'Tlaloc was the Aztec rain god, and one of the two large temples in Tenochtitlan was dedicated to him. Long before Tenochtilan fell to the European conquerers in 1521, there existed a statue of Tlaloc, hewn from a huge monolith. The statue was 23 feet tall and weighed 168 tons. The invaders had heard about it but they were never able to locate it. They must have wondered how something so massive could possibly be hidden.'

'It seems that more than 400 years later a farmer was plowing his field near Texcoco, across the former lake from Tenochtitlan, when he came upon this incredible statue. It was unearthed, and in 1964 it was moved to Mexico City where it now occupies a special place of honor in front of the Anthropological Museum. Apparently the day Tlaloc was moved into Mexico City there was an incredible downpour. It is claimed to have been the heaviest rainfall since records were kept.'

Finally, a nearly forgotten article in Spanish, published by Luisa Riley in a Mexican newspaper following the day of the removal - April 16, 1964. Find it here, as well as a couple of pictures posted on another website of the day of that unusual journey.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.


Ron said...

Actually I can sort of verify this legend, because recently I listened to a recording of Jean Shepherd relating this story from a newspaper article. The recording was made in 1964, within days of the occurrence. So, unless the story was made up of whole cloth by the UPI or AP stringer, it is apparently true.

Ron said...

No hablo espanol.

explora said...

Thank you for your comment, Ron.

Anonymous said...

Don't miss this - last year, they decided to return a replica to Coatlinchan. It seems the town had become dry and lost productivity...
read about it in this Mexican newspaper:

Anonymous said...

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

quite interesting read. I would love to follow you on twitter.

explora said...

Please do!

explora said...
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