Cihuacalli

Among the Aztecs, the Cihuacalli was the name given to those controlled buildings where prostitution was permitted by political and religious authorities. "Cihuacalli" is a Nahuatl word which means "House of Women".

The Cihuacalli was a closed compound with rooms, all of which were looking to a central patio. At the center of the patio was a statue of Tlazolteotl, the goddess of "filth". Religious authorities believed women should work as prostitutes, if they wish, only at such premices guarded by Tlazolteotl. It was believed Tlazolteotl had the power to incite sexual activity, and at the same time do spiritual cleansing of such acts.

There are stories that also refer to certain places, either inside the Cihuacalli or outside, where women would perform erotic dance in front of men. The poet Tlaltecatzin of Cuauhchinanco noted that special "Joyful Women" would perform erotic dances at certain homes outside of the compound.

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