Chalchiuhtlicue, whose name means “She of the Jade Skirt,” is the Aztec goddess of rivers, lakes, seas, springs, and all running water. She is traditionally depicted as an elegant woman in blue-green clothes, with her skirt flowing out to form the river of life—and of death, for Chalchiuhtlicue also presided over the fourth sun of creation, which was destroyed by flood. She wears a quechquemitl (a poncho-like garment with the point in the front) and a magnificent feather crown. Our costume design involves some very easy crafting—a few straight pins and some double-sided tape—but no sewing. You’ll need about three yards of Aztec pattern ribbon for the headdress, feather cuffs, and poncho top.

The pieces we suggest, from left to right:

1. Feather headdress. Attach a length of Aztec pattern ribbon around the gold braid trim; you can use straight pins so as not to mess up the feathers. Finish it off with turquoise chandelier earrings, which can just hook onto the braid trim on each side of the headdress.
2. Black poncho top. The top we used isn’t available anymore, but pretty much any plain black poncho will work (this one, for example); you’re going to temporarily enhance it with ribbon and fringe in a V-shape, which will help give the effect of a quechquemitl. You’ll need two yards of the Aztec pattern ribbon and two yards of coordinating tassel fringe. Arrange the ribbon and fringe in a deep double-V-shape, with points in the front and the back, and attach with Res-Q tape or even just safety pins. If you get ambitious, you can also trim the edges of the poncho with fringe; you would probably need at least four yards for that. (If you want to make a quechquemitl from scratch instead of buying a poncho, Mexicolore has good instructions.)
3. The all-important jade skirt! Any maxi skirt in that color range will do.
4. Blue-green statement necklace. The one we used is made out of shell, but is no longer available.
5. Feather cuffs. One yard of feather trim will be more than enough to do both cuffs. Attach the Aztec pattern ribbon to the base of the feather trim with double-sided tape, then wrap the assembled cuff around your wrist. You can safety-pin the ends in place.
6. Turquoise gladiator sandals. Aztec shoes vaguely resembled ankle-high gladiator sandals. If you don’t already have gladiators, these would be perfect.

Hair: If you want to try to do your hair like Chalchiuhtlicue, this sculpture in the British Museum shows you what you need to know. Basically we’re looking at two big fluffy pigtails/ponytails, one on each side of the head:

British Museum

Costume illustration credits: In the upper right corner of our main illustration is Sandra M. Stanton’s wonderful oil of a resplendent Chalchiuhtlicue in feather headdress. The luminous center painting is by ladycat17 on deviantART. The insets are images of Chalchiuhtlicue from the Aztec codices.


Other costumes in this category: Goddesses and Legends