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Eight Deer Jaguar Claw

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Subject: 1115, Mixtec people, Mexican literature, 1063, Mixtec language
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Eight Deer Jaguar Claw

Eight Deer Jaguar Claw
Eight Deer Jaguar Claw (right) Meeting with Four Jaguar, in a depiction from the Codex Zouche-Nuttall, His name glyph with a deer head and eight red dots is above his head.
Born 1063
Tilantongo, Mexico
Died 1115
Tilantongo, Mexico
Other names Eight Deer, Eight Deer Ocelot Claw
Occupation Mixtec ruler

Eight Deer Jaguar Claw (Mixtec: Iya Nacuaa Teyusi Ñaña [1]) was a powerful Mixtec ruler in 11th century Oaxaca referred to in the 15th century deerskin manuscript Codex Zouche-Nuttall, and other Mixtec manuscripts. His surname is alternatively translated Tiger-Claw and Ocelot-Claw. John Pohl has dated his life as having lasted from 1063 until his death by sacrifice in 1115.[2] Consonant with standard Aztec practice, the "Eight Deer" component of his name refers to his day of birth within the 260-day Aztec cycle, which cycles through 13 numbers and 20 various signs (e.g., animals, plants, natural phenomena).

His reputation as a great ruler has given him a legendary status among the Mixtecs and some aspects of his life story as it is told in the pictographic codices seem to merge with myth. Furthermore, actual knowledge of his life is hindered by the lack of complete understanding of the Mixtec codices, and although the study of the codices has advanced much over the past 20 years, it is still difficult to achieve a definitive interpretation of their narrative. The narrative, as it is currently understood, is a tragic story of a man who achieves greatness but falls victim to his own hunger for power. The following biography of 8 Deer is based on the way it is interpreted by specialist in Mixtec archaeology and ethnohistory, John Pohl.[3]

Codex Zouche-Nuttall, Mixtec pictorial codex which is the main source of knowledge about Eight Deer Jaguar Claw.

Born on the Mixtec Calendar date from which he got his name, 8 Deer was the son of the high priest of Tilantongo 5 Crocodile “Sun of Rain”. His mother was Lady 9 Eagle “Cocoa-Flower”, queen of Tecamachalco. He also had a brother 12 Earthquake “Bloody Jaguar” and 9 Flower “Copalball with Arrow” who were both faithful war companions of 8 Deer.

He also had a half-sister 6 Lizard “Jade-Fan”. First the fiancee and lover of 8 Deer himself, she was finally married to 8 Deer's archenemy 11 Wind “Bloody Jaguar”, the king of the city "Xipe's Bundle", also known as Red and White Bundle. The lords of Xipe's Bundle had rights to the throne of Tilantongo and were therefore the most important rivals to 8 Deer's power.

Lord 8 Deer is remembered for his military expansion. Codex Zouche-Nuttall counts 94 conquered cities during his reign. He was the only Mixtec king ever to unite kingdoms of the three Mixtec areas: Tilantongo in the Mixteca Alta area with Teozacualco of the Mixteca Baja area and Tututepec of the coastal Mixteca area. Almost always pictured wearing a jaguar helmet, he supported the powerful Toltec ruler of Cholula, Lord 4 Jaguar “Face of the Night” in his attempts at expansionism, and was thus awarded a turquoise nose ornament, a symbol of Toltec royal authority.[4]

The Codices also tell of his several marriages which seem to have been part of a political strategy to achieve dominance by marrying into different Mixtec royal lineages. He married 13 Serpent, daughter of his own stepsister and former fiancee 6 Lizard.

In 1101 8 Deer finally conquered Xipe's Bundle, killed his wife's father and his stepsister's husband 11 Wind and tortured and killed his brothers-in-law, except the youngest one by the name of 4 Wind. In 1115 4 Wind lead an alliance between different Mixtec kingdoms against 8 Deer who was taken prisoner and sacrificed by 4 wind, his own nephew and brother-in-law.[4]


  1. ^ Jansen and Pérez Jiménez (2004)
  2. ^ See Pohl (n.d.)
  3. ^ See Pohl (2002); Byland and Pohl (1994)
  4. ^ a b Pohl (n.d.)


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