A vintage postcard recreates a drawing Aztec god Xipe-Totec by Miguel Covarrubias, after a 16th-century codex. (Smithsonian)
Xipe Totec, Mesoamerican fertility god, is honored during the Spring Equinox. He accepts flayed human flesh as sacrifice for he flayed his own to feed humanity (as he is here depicted, the skin hanging loosely from his limbs), to promote a good harvest. During Tlacaxipehualiztli, or Snake Festival, there would be sacrificing of war captives through gladitorial contests.
A ’god impersonator’ would dress as the god for 40 days and then be sacrificed, his skin removed and dyed yellow. The teocuitlaquemitl "golden skin” was then worn by priests to perform ritual dance in later a ceremony or by young men until the skin rotted and fell away.
The flaying, adorning, and finally removing of the skin represents the renewal of seasons.