In Aztec methodology, the word “divine women” were attributed to the malevolent spirits of those women who died during childbirth.
The cihuateteo or divine women were link to the spirit of male warriors who died in war front, because they believed the act of child birth is the same with battle in their culture.
According to the Aztecs tradition, a woman who is in labour was said to have het hold of the spirit of her new born baby similar to what happens between a warrior and his opponent in a battle or war front.
The Cihuateteo resided in a region known as Cihuatlampain the western part, and it is normally called ” the place of women” Each day, they directed the sun into the west from noon untill sunset.
They did this in assistance of the spirit of the male warriors and the practice was limited to these two group of people who are deceased.
It was a kind of honour that could not be bought with money and therefore wasn’t bestowed on any other individual.
CIHUATETEO is a stone sculpture which depict a sitting female statue putting a plane skirt and a knotted belt . It has large circular eyes, skull-like face, exposed teeth, unkempt hair carved in swirls and twists. It has claw-like feets which aid its leaning and facing forward.
The Cihuateteo showed up in the earth on special market days according to Aztecs calender: 1 Rain, 1Monkey, 1 deer, 1 House, 1 eagle. During these special days, they were involved in haunting places associated with diseases and evil with the hope of picking the young ones they were never opportune to have.
Child birth was seen as a laborious and violent activity which require much effort to sail through. Therefore, an Aztecs woman who experienced child birth was attributed to a warrior and the process was likened to the intense of battle.
Their believe was that the child was sent down to the earth by the gods, and the woman had to go through struggle in order to bring forth the child into the world. The child now became the reward of the struggle if at all the woman was successful in the fight with the gods, but if she lost in the fight during the process, then she die and her soul later transformed into a Cihuateteo.
Following the death of the woman, several funeral practices were usually carried out, as the body of any woman who dies during child birth is believed to come with special powers.
During the practices, the corpse was usually guided by some armed entourage which were; all the midwives, his friends, the widowed husband. This was done to protect the remains from the male warriors. Part of the woman’s body believed to have been the centre of concentration of the male warriors were the hair and the middle finger.
According to their belief, these parts posseses some special diabolical powers that could help the male warriors conquer in battles while blinding the views of enemies.
Conclusion: Women who died during labour were given the same value and respect which is similar to that of a male warrior who died in the battle field, accompanied by the sun through the land, but were also regarded as witches who could cause damages to children, could get into the body and produce deformity.
At the funeral the relative of the Cihuateteo were to guide and take care of the body to avoid the male warriors from taking part of it away in order to gain victory in battle.