Xipe Totec, the name used by the Aztecs for this deity, means Our Lord the Flayed One. During Xipe Totec’s annual festival, Aztec warriors impersonated him by wearing the flayed skins of sacrificed war captives. Occurring in the spring, the festival carried agricultural significance: the shedding of the dead, flayed skin was seen as parallel to the growth of planted seeds, whose sprouts spring forth from their dry, dead hulls. As this pre-Aztec example from Veracruz presents, Xipe Totec—and his human impersonators—wore the flayed skin as a full bodysuit. The expressionless face of this ceramic version, with slit-eyes and gaping mouth, almost completely conceals the wearer; only his hands and feet emerge from the costume.
Princeton University Art Museum: Handbook of the collections, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Art Museum, 2013).
Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton University Art Museum: handbook of the collections, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007).