Xipe Totec or ‘Flayed One’ in Nahuatl, was a major god in ancient Mesoamerican culture and particularly important for the Toltecs and Aztecs. He was considered the god of spring, the patron god of seeds and planting and the patron of metal workers (especially goldsmiths) and gemstone workers. He is equivalent to Tezcatlipoca, patron of Cuauhtli (eagle).
He is most often represented rather grotesquely with a bloated face (sometimes striped), sunken eyes and double lips. He can cast a ghoulish figure wearing the skin of one of his sacrificial victims which is elaborately tied with a string at the back, shows the incision where the victim’s heart was removed and with even the flayed hands hanging from the god’s wrists.
Xipe Totec was the son of the primordial androgynous god Ometeotl and, specifically in Aztec mythology, he was the brother of those other three major gods Tezcatlipoca, Huitzilopochtli and Quetzalcoatl. Sometimes credited with being a creator god along with his brothers, Xipe Totec was also closely associated with death, which resulted in him being considered the source of diseases amongst mankind. However, the god also received many offerings from worshipers calling for him to cure illnesses, especially eye ailments.
Every spring in the third month of the solar year the festival of Tlacaxipehualiztli (a.k.a. Coailhuitl or the Snake Festival) was held in honor of Xipe Totec and human sacrifices were made to appease the god and ensure a good harvest that year. The sacrificial victims, usually war captives, were then skinned in symbolic imitation of the regeneration of plants and seeds which shed their husks and thereby provide new seeds.