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File:Cultures précolombiennes MRAH Cihuateotl 291211 1.jpg
A terracotta statue of Cihuateotl, the Aztec goddess of women who died during childbirth.

In Aztec mythology, the Cihuateteo /sˌwɑːtˈt/ (Classical Nahuatl: Cihuātēteoh[pronunciation?] "Divine Women", singular Classical Nahuatl: Cihuātēotl) were the spirits of human women who died in childbirth (mociuaquetzque). Childbirth was considered a form of battle, and its victims were honored as fallen warriors. Their physical remains were thought to strengthen soldiers in battle while their spirits became the much-feared Cihuateteo who accompanied the setting sun in the west. They also haunted crossroads at night, stealing children and causing sicknesses, especially seizures and madness, and seducing men to sexual misbehavior.

Their images appear with the beginning day signs of the five western trecena, (1 Deer, 1 Rain, 1 Monkey, 1 House, and 1 Eagle) during which they were thought to descend to the earth and cause particularly dangerous mischief. They are depicted with skeletal faces and with eagle claws for hands.

They are associated with the goddess Cihuacoatl and are sometimes considered envoys of Mictlan, the world of the dead. Cihuateteo are servants of the Aztec moon deities Tezcatlipoca and Tlazolteotl.

See also