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The poet King Nezahualcoyotl - El rey poeta by tlacuilopilo The poet King Nezahualcoyotl - El rey poeta by tlacuilopilo
Portrait of Nezahualcoyotl. Acrylic on paper. 9 x 11.

Simply put: My favorite historical figure. You can learn more about him below, a summary of his history (in Spanish) and an article I wrote (In English). If interested about knowing more about this poet king, his complete name was Acolmiztli Netzahualcoyotl sometimes pronounced Nezahualcoyotl.

I did this painting on an idea of what I think the historical figure would look like in the XV century. Acrylic on paper. You can see his name as an Aztec glyph in the upper left side.

Not to be used or reproduced in any form without the artist's permission

And now a writing by me:

A Hungry Coyote at the fall of Atzcapotzalco. By Miguel Angel Omaña Rojas.

At the beginning of the 15th century, Atzcapotzalco was the most powerful nation in the known world of Ixachillan. Its ruler was Tezozomoc, a powerful man whose ambition led him to expand his dominion by conquering neighboring nations. The last existing Triple Alliance between Atzcapotzalco, Culhuacan and Coatlinchan was teared apart when Tezozomoc fractured the bond between allies, and began warfare with friends and foes. During his conquering campaigns, he used the Mexica and Tlatelolca armies as subordinates of the greater capital, Atzcapotzalco.

One by one each capital fell under Tezozomoc’s rulership. Atzcapotzalco began invading nations like Colhuacan, Xaltocan, Coatlinchan, and many minor states. Only one altepetl (capital city) was left in the vicinity of Atzcapotzalco, Tetzcoco, capital of Aculhuacan. Tezozomoc wanted to claim its power over the Aculhua, but he needed to debunk the Aculhua ruler Ixtlilxochitl Ome Tochtli, father of Acolmiztli Netzahualcoyotl.

Without any further waste of time, Tezozomoc mustered a huge army with its aim pointing to Tetzcoco. All provinces of Aculhuacan were taken easily by the Tecpanec army. Tezozomoc reached Tetzcoco and finally began a bloody siege to the Aculhua capital. When the majority of the city was taken after a fifty-day siege, Ixtlilxochitl retreated and fled to the woods of Cuauhyacac and Tzicanoztoc with his young son Acolmiztli Netzahualcoyotl and two of his generals. They were hiding of Tezozomoc’s soldiers who were on Ixtlilxochitl’s trail. Finally on September 28th, 1418, Ixtlilxochitl decided it was his time. He said goodbye to his son Netzahualcoyotl, and gave advise to hide on a tree-top where no enemy will reach. After this Netzahualcoyotl climbed the tree, when Tecpanec soldiers found the still ruler Ixtlilxochitl. The final combat between Ixtlilxochitl and his enemies was witnessed by his son. Hope faded when Ixtlilxochitl Ome Tochtli was finally killed in front of his own son Netzahualcoyotl.

Back in Tetzcoco when news arrived of the death of Ixtlilxochitl, Tezozomoc declared himself ruler and rightful heir to the government of Aculhuacan. Tezozomoc argued that his right was given de facto since he was grandson of great chichimeca tecuhtli (Chichimec ruler) Xolotl, conqueror of all central Anahuac.

Netzahualcoyotl became an orphan, wandering through woods and sleeping in desolated caves. He wasn’t anymore Acolmiztli but Netzahualcoyotl, which means Hungry Coyote. Always running, always escaping from the ever growing tyrannical hand of Tezozomoc. Tezozomoc invited people to bring forth Netzahualcoyotl, dead or alive.

Time passed and his Mexica relatives gave Netzahualcoyotl good protection from the Tecpanec scouts who were searching for him. During the years that Netzahualcoyotl lived in the Mexica capital, Tollan-Mexico-Tenochtitlan, he studied a wide variety of subjects. He reached a certain mature age when he left the Mexica and went from town to town. In part he left because there was an enormous pressure from Atzcapotzalco to give Netzahualcoyotl as Tezozomoc ordered. Netzahualcoyotl went to live for some time to the Confederation of Tlaxcallan, comprised of four capitals. There he gave and create many famous speeches and poems. He met with many rulers, poets, artists, philosophers, politicians and generals. It was said by the people of his time that Netzahualcoyotl went from town to town always followed with great and famous persons, that instead of being a fugitive to Atzcapotzalco Hungry Coyote resembled a great statesman doing diplomatic tours.

Such fame that Netzahualcoyotl acquired made legends and stories arise around his person. One told was the somehow Netzahualcoyotl was predestined to be the one to annihilate the powerful Atzapotzalco. Aside from stories, part of the truth of why Netzahualcoyotl was so wise and of good judgement relies on the fact that his teacher was Huitzilihuitzin a famous philosopher that still had great fame during the time of the Spanish Conquest.

After pleas from Mexica noble women, Tezozomoc let Netzahualcoyotl travel freely (at least he said that openly). But within his palace, Tezozomoc told his sons Quetzalayatzin, Maxtla and Tlatoca Tlizpaltzin that the one who gets to kill Netzahualcoyotl shall become the next ruler of Atzcapotzalco. This was in part because Tezozomoc had a misterious dream that according to the seers of destiny, this was a bad omen refering that Netzahualcoyotl might take revange of his father’s death by destroying Atzcapotzalco’s lineage.

Time passed in relative calm, when suddenly the great nation of Atzcapotzalco (Place of Ants) was shaken by the sudden natural death of its ruler Tezozomoc on March 24th, 1427. The Council of the Old Ones chose Quetzalayatzin to succeed according to the will estipulated by Tezozomoc before his departure to the Mictlan (Place of the dead).

Many dignataries assisted the funerary ceremonies and wake in honor to most respected Tezozomoc (Tezozomoctzin), including the ellusive Netzahualcoyotl. Amid the plans to kill Hungry Coyote, the Tecpaneca were still mourning their ruler’s death. But when gossip was heard that Maxtla was preparing his men to kill Netzahualcoyotl while he stayed in Atzcapotzalco, Mexica prince Motecuhzoma Ilhuicamina (Moctezuma I) warned Netzahualcoyotl to leave as soon as he could due to the plot. So was done by Netzahualcoyotl.

When Quetzalayatzin assumed the rulership of Atzcapotzalco, his brother Maxtla thought he was the rightful heir to the government of Atzcapotzalco. So Maxtla, lord of Coyoacan, mustered his armies and made a historical coup d’etat at Atzcapotzalco. He deprived his brother Quetzalayatzin of any power in Atzcapotzalco’s government, until he deprived him of life by killing him. Maxtla self proclaimed to be ruler of all Atzcapotzalco and its dominions.

Without hesitating, many cities became restless with Maxtla, since many began considering him a dictator.

Meanwhile Maxtla quickly took action with the Mexica and Tlatelolca, long-time enemies of the Tecpaneca. He sent military forces to seize Chimalpopoca, ruler of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, and Tlacateotzin, ruler of Mexico-Tlatelolco. Both were imprisoned at Atzcapotzalco. Netzahualcoyotl knew of the capture of his uncle Chimalpopoca, and went to Atzcapotzalco to ask the pardon and release to nothing else that Maxtla. Maxtla deny the release of Chimalpopoca, but again tried to kill Netzahualcoyotl. Hungry Coyote again escaped in an almost fantastic way from Atzcapotzalco. Maxtla felt furious with Netzahualcoyotl, and let his wrath realeased by killing both Chimalpopoca and Tlacateotzin. So was that Itzcoatl was named succesor at Tenochtitlan, and Cuauhtlatoatzin at Tlatelolco.

Maxtla didn’t stop there and went with his army to seige Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco. No one could rescue the Mexica and Tlatelolca, not even Netzahualcoyotl, since his nation still couldn´t gain independence from Atzcapotzalco.

Netzahualcoyotl seeing all the turmoil happening in the known world knew it was time for his occupied nation of Aculhuacan to gain independence from the tecpaneca state of Atzcapotzalco. But to do so, he needed the support of inconditional friends from abroad. To the good fortune of Netzahualcoyotl, many of the independent strongholds out of Atzcapotzalco sphere of influence were Hungry Coyote’s allies and relatives.

Netzahualcoyotl sent emissaries to many nations in order to bring aid to the Aculhua cause. After many contactacts with generales and rulers of distant nations, in coordination with the general headquarters established at Calpolalpan the plan was fully made. This plan composed by Netzahualcoyotl consisted of merging the armies of the friendly nations to atack two Tecpance strongholds within Aculhuacan, Acolman and Coatlinchan, while Netzahualcoyotl with a minor force would help either one of the battle, and later will enter to the capital. The alliance of the Tlaxcalteca Confederation with the Huexotzinca Republic and Cholula attacked the city of Acolman. The Confederation of Chalco focused their armies at Coatlinchan. The rest of the allied states, Zacatlan, Totototepec, Tepeapulco, and Aculhua insurgents within occupied-Aculhuacan were under Netzahualcoyotl’s command. During the war, Netzahualcoyotl helped at Acolman and at Coatlichan, once they were defeated, he quickly turned and went to attack the occupied capital, Tetzcoco. Tetzcoco was taken by Netzahualcoyotl, he triumphantly made his entrance to the city at August 27, 1427. Once restored independence, he established the original borders.

Now Netzahualcoyotl had full power to help Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco, now occupied by Atzcapotzalco’s forces. Hungry Coyote took this opportunity to unite all the world under the purpose of weakening the Tecpanec forces at the twin cities of Mexico, and keep advancing toward Atzcapotzalco in order to destroy it once and for all.

Again Netzahualcoyotl summoned the Tlaxcalteca, Huexotzinca and Cholulteca armies to be mustered and confront Maxtla at the Lake of Tetzcoco. The huge army crossed the lake and crashed with Maxtla’s army. The battle was rough and difficult, but soon Netzahualcoyotl kicked Atzcapotzalco’s presence out of the twin cities of Tenochitlan and Tlatelolco. Itzcoatl and Cuauhtlatoatzin realized this was the one opportunity to defeat Maxtla, and joined Hungry Coyote’s alliance.

The monstruous army divided into different sectors in order to surround Atzcapotzalco. At the same time, after diplomatic talks, the allies convinced tecpaneca province Tlacopan to unite with them. Totoquihuatzin, Tlacopan ruler, indeed accepted the alliance, but made his military movements in secret.

At last, the allied armies converged at Atzcapotzalco siege. After months of combat under the walls of Atzcapotzalco, the allies broke the tecpaneca defence and entered the city. Quickly Atzcapotzalco was sacked and burned. Everyone searched for Maxtla, but no one knew where he was. Netzahualcoyotl opened the door of a temazcalli (spa bath) and found hiding Maxtla inside. Netzahualcoyotl fought him, and beat him all over the palace until he took him outside in front of the city’s main square. Finally Netzahualcoyotl finished him by taking his heart out of Maxtla’s chest with his bare hands, this he said in honor of his father Ixtlilxochitl.

So was the end of the powerful nation of Atzcapotzalco, and the beginning of the glory of famous Netzahualcoyotl.

The result of the fall of Atzcapotzalco brought the re-birth of the Triple Alliance invented by the Tolteca, now conformed by the nations of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, Aculhuacan and Tlacopan. This to rule-out any possibility of having again a one-man government. An institution that survived until the holocaust of the Spanish Conquest... having to our days again the one-man rulership.


Retrato de Nezahualcoyotl. Acrilico en papel. 9 x 11.

Hice esta pintura con la imagen que yo imagino seria Nezahualcoyotl. Acrilico en papel, 9 x 11. Se puede apreciar el glifo de su nombre en la parte superior izquierda.

Y a pesar de haber sufrido todas las adversidades del mundo, su increible fortaleza y digna determinación llevaronlo de ser un Coyote Hambriento vagando como refugiado en el exilio, al convertirse en el muy respetable portador de la palabra Netzahualcoyotl. Hoy se le debe recordar a él. Se debe alzar hasta los cielos los canticos y poesias que realizo este enamorado de las flores. Imitemos al gran visionario que reconquisto a su país Acolhuacan de sus enemigos, a aquel que dió sus famosas 80 leyes, a aquel que dió justicia hasta al mas desvalido, a aquel cuya imaginación nunca detuvose al diseñar tantas obras y adelantos tecnológicos que hoy ya ni tenemos en pleno siglo XXI.

Su nombre era Acolmiztli, pero después le fue conocido como Netzahualcoyotl por semejar un coyote hambriento. En sus poesías él mismo se ponía como seudonimo Yoyontzin, algo así como hoy en día en internet el nickname.

Su titulo que ostentaba como gobernante era: Chichimecatl acolhua tecuhtli.
Ese titulo era el mismo que habían tenido su padre y demas ascendientes, pero arrebatado fue por Tezozomoc el Grande (gobernante de Atzcapotzalco). Tras la muerte de Tezozomoc, y derrotar a su hijo Maxtla, Netzahualcoyotl retomó tan afamado titulo heredado por Xolotl, que duró hasta que los españoles desaparicieron tales titulos a finales del siglo XVI.

Su única esposa fue la famosa Azcaxochitzin hija de Temictzin, pero no su única mujer. En tiempos de Techotlalla los toltecas habían introducido una costumbre en que los gobernantes podían tener muchas concubinas. No se sabe el numero exacto de concubinas y amantes que tuvo Nezahualcoyotl desde la primera que tuvo en su juventud cuando viajaba en el exilio de Tlaxcallan a Chalco. Pero se sabe que tuvo 119 hijos, 60 varones, 57 mujeres, mas los 2 varones legitimos (hijos de Azcaxochitzin). Pero se tiene que aclarar que Nezahualcoyotl se casó con su legitima esposa ya muy grande de edad, dado que decadas atras había tenido una prometida que por aras del destino se casó con otro joven por una inocente confusión.

Todos sus hijos, legitimos e ilegitimos, fueron muy queridos por Nezahualcoyotl. Cabe resaltar que de los hijos que sobrevivieron datos historicos, todos fueron grandes hombres y mujeres. Unos diestros capitanes, otros poetas tambien, sus hijas eran las mas codiciadas en aquellos tiempos, y los menos fueron muy reconocidos gobernantes u hombres valientes en las batallas que hizo su padre.

Sus hijos legitimos fueron Tetzauhpintzintli, el niño prodigo, era el heredero al trono del poder en Texcoco pero fue acusado por Eyahua, una concubina de Nezahualcoyotl, de traición por lo que su padre siempre fiel a la justicia cumplió con la leyes y fue muerto. Tras haber sufrido la perdida de su hijo primogenito, el cual era gran poeta, intelectual y amante de las artes, llego su segundo hijo legitimo, Netzahualpilli, hijo deseado, el cual heredaría el icpalli y el copilli a la muerte de Nezahualcoyotl.

Toda su vida estuvo en la busqueda del Dios Desconocido. Nezahualcoyotl fué influenciado por su maestro Huitzilihuitzin, ya que durante su vida dedicose a recuperar las tradiciones religiosas de los toltecas, cuya nación había caído cerca del año 1000. Se negaba hacer hacer monumentos, efigies o dibujos de aquel dios único, y mucho mas importantemente, rehusaba darle un nombre. Decía que nosotros, los creados, no podíamos nombrar al creador. Dentro de sus filosofía explicaba porque ... ¡él se nombrá a sí mismo! Pero para referirse a ese dios desconocido, usaba varios terminos vagos pero muy descriptivos de su identidad filosófica de Nezahualcoyotl. "Autor de la vida", "Dador de la vida", "El Sumo Arbitro", "Aquel por quien vivimos", "El que hace vivir al mundo", "Aquel por quien todo vive", "El Inventor de sí mismo". El lugar donde vivía este dios desconocido, sin imagen, sin nombre, era el Lugar de la Dualidad, muy parecido a lo que decían los toltecas donde vivía Ometeotl, el díos dual. Recordemos la influencia tolteca, pero tambien que Nezahualcoyotl tuvo sus propias ideas de ese dios.

Era un excelente Diplomatico. A pesar de haber vivido su juventud perseguido y tras haber creado la guerra mundial mejor conocida como la Segunda Guerra Tecpaneca, siempre fue un hombre de paz y nunca provoco a sus países vecinos, mas bien tendía lazos.
He aquí un extracto de lo que dijo Nezahualcoyotl a su pueblo tras la elección de Motecuhzoma Ilhuicamina (Moctezuma I) de Mexíco Tenochtítlan:

"Ruegoos, señores y hermanos, encarecidamente que mireís como trataís a los mexicanos.
Huid de su enemistad y de encontraros con ellos.
Tengamos paz perpetua y amistad inviolable con ellos.
Ya los conoceís, no es menester declararme más en particular acerca de su condición.
Si los topárades en el camino y os pidieren de lo que lleváis, partid con ellos.
Acariciadlos, porque de hacerlo no perdemos nada, y del contrario, ninguna cosa se gana,
si no es guerras e inquietudes; muertes, robos y derramamiento de nuestra sangre,
y desolación de nuestra patria."

La Triple Alianza.
Tres naciones unieronse tras la caída de Atzcapotzalco: Mexíco, Tlacopan y Acolhuacan.
Los tres gobernantes de cada país se juntaron en un temazcalli, donde se planteo la idea de que se aliaran de manera confederada, pero independizadas de cada una, con su respectiva capital. La solución que se quería dar al formar la Triple Alianza era, primero juntar a los distintos bandos, por un lado mexícas y acolhuas, y por el otro los tecpanecas. Segundo, para evitar que un solo hombre gobernase el Anahuac, tal y como lo había realizado el tlahtoani de Atzcapotzalco. Cada que surgiera nuevo tlahtoani, los otros dos coronarían al nuevo. Así sucedió cuando Itzcoatl murió, y fue electo Motecuhzoma I, coronado por Nezahualcoyotl. Con el pasar de los años, los juglares y poetas en fiestas y convites daban recuerdo de lo acontecido en tiempos de Nezahualcoyotl:

Oh, Motecuhzoma, oh Nezahualcoyotl, oh Totoquihuatzin,
vosotros tejisteis, vosotros enredasteis,
la Unión de los principes,
¡Un instante al menos gozad de vuestras ciudades,
sobre las que fuisteis gobernantes!

Las obras del gran arquitecto.
Desde muy joven Nezahualcoyotl mostró dotes para la construcción de obras de ingeniería, ya que desde su adolescencia ayudo a construir como simple obrero en el primitivo acueducto que traía agua de Chapultepec a Mexíco Tenochtitlan. Ya adulto, la sequía de la que aún sufrimos comenzó a emerger, haciendo dificil para la capital madre Texcoco obtener agua viviendo al lado de un lago salitroso. La solución que dió el ingenioso Nezahualcoyotl, fue crear un complejo sistema de canales desde Teotihuacan hasta Texcoco, así como de canales que guiaban naturalmente el agua que escurría del monte Tlaloc, pasando por el cerro Tetzcotzinco. Nezahualcoyotl fue uno de los mas grandes benefactores de Mexíco Tenochtitlan, quien construyo el formal acueducto de Chapultepec, diseño el bosque de Chapultepec (de hecho plantó los primeros ahuehuetes), y dió inteligente solución al problema eterno de las inundaciones en Mexíco. Creó un albarradon dividiendo al Lago de Texcoco, de piedra, que cruzaba doce kilometros del lago para dividirlo en dulce, el lado poniente, y salado el oriental. Dicho albarrada servía de muro, para que en los tiempos de lluvias evitara el natural desbordamiento del lago, y evitar estragos en las islas mexícas.

¡En buen tiempo vinimos a vivir,
hemos venido en tiempo primaveral!
¡Instante brevísimo, oh amigos!

¡Aún así tan breve, que se viva!


Su poesía siempre centrada en el breve instante que tenemos en este mundo terrenal, la fragilidad de nuestra estar en este plano. Y su busqueda del dios desconocido, y adonde iremos tras la muerte. Sin dejar de lado, su constante embellecimiento de las flores, el canto, la amistad.

¿Es que acaso se vive de verdad en la tierra?
¡No por siempre en la tierra,
solo breve tiempo aquí!
Aunque sea jade: también se quiebra
aunque sea oro: también se hiende,
y aún el plumaje de quetzal se desgarra:
¡No por siempre en la tierra:
Solo breve tiempo aquí!
Add a Comment:
Rufina-Tomoyo Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2012
Es interesante la interpretación, tan acostumbrados estamos al de los billetes. Y buena reseña.

Aunque hay algo que no he podido encontrar: los poemas originales en nahuatl...
tlacuilopilo Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Buenisima idea de poner los poemas en su idioma original, el nahuatl. Dejame y luego los pongo, o a ver como le hago. Y sobre la interpretacion de como yo pienso pudo haber lucido Netzahualcoyotl, en efecto es como mas o menos yo me lo imagino, pero sin duda influenciado por mis ideas pero tambien por las estatuas que hay de el a la entrada de Texcoco y en el Museo del Ejercito Mexicano. Lo que me indico que no andaba tan mal en la concepcion que yo tenia de el.

Ahi te va mi poema favorito de el, pues me lo se de memoria aunque creo que se me esta escapando una linea, pero ahi te va...

Cuix oc nelli nemohua in Tlalticpac?
Ah nochipa Tlalticpac, zan achica ye nican!
Noteocuitlatl in tlapani,
noquetzalli in poztequi,
Ah nochipa Tlalticpac, zan achica ye nican!
Rufina-Tomoyo Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2012
Yo digo que en algún lado han de estar, habrá que preguntarle a Miguel León Portilla.
tlacuilopilo Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Jaja, prefiero mil veces las traducciones de Angel Garibay K. Pero luego las pondre. :) :)
Add a Comment:


Submitted on
August 6, 2012
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Date Taken
Jul 2, 2009, 8:36:16 PM


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