Plural "cihuateteo". Another mythological entity from prehispanic mesoamerican cultures. This one holds many similarities with the tzitzimime, primarily, in the way they both are depicted. Some of this similarities are, the sukull face, the necklace of skulls and hands, a bi-cephalic serpent tied to the waist, eagle claws for hands and the skirt they wear. Other similarities are that they both serve to the same higher deity, they are also associated with the sun and its cycles, and both may have been greatly misinterpreted by most people (frailes) who had access to the cosmogony of Aztecs.
I've been "investigating" about this mythological entities since my last post about the tzitzimime, who were powerful and fearsome deities associated with solar eclipses and stars. They were portrayed, the same as the cihuateteo, as demons. But in the case of the cihuateteo, their origin is quite different and interesting, some authors guess they were nothing in the likes of demons, and the catholic frailes who "studied" the mesoamerican culture and "recorded" it, just fell victims of their... restricted and biased POV, and they called them demons. Of course.
The term "cihuateteo", is supposed to literally mean "women goddesses" or "divine women". Every woman, who died at childbirth, would become a cihuatetéotl. The aztecs view the women who gave birth, as they view a warrior. For them, it seems the act of bringing a child to the world, was a battle mothers would have to fight. Sometimes ending in the mother's death. There's a prayer midwives recited when a mother died in labor:
My little one, my daughter, my noble woman, you have wearied yourself, you have fought bravely. By your labors you have achieved a noble death, you have come to the place of the Divine. …Go, beloved child, little by little towards them (the Cihuateteo) and become one of them; go daughter and they will receive you and you will be one of them forever, rejoicing with your happy voices in praise of our Mother and Father, the Sun, and you will always accompany them wherever they go in their rejoicing.
They became women of the gods, just as warriors who died in battle became men of the gods. After death they went to a place, in the sky. There, each day, they (both women and men) helped the sun in his journey through the sky from east to west. Men helped him from sunrise to noon and women from noon to sunset. It was an honor to serve directly to the father sun. They were so highly regarded that families of these women had to guard the body from warriors who may want to severe the middle finger, believing that this would give them special powers in battle. After all, a cihuatetéotl was a powerful and divine being.
And here comes the "spooky" part. There were five particular days of mexica calendar (mexica means aztec), when the cihuateteo came down to earth, in those days, children where advised to not go outside and stay away particularly from roads, because cihuateteo may rob them, also men were a target. Cihuateteo could posses men and make them engage in strange sexual misbehavior or adultery XD - "cihuahueteo made me do it". Also seizures, epidemics, illness... were associated with cihuateteo. BUT, they could also cure sickness and procure the well being of entire families. So they were not that bad, they were powerful though.
Here's my, messy, interpretation of the cihuahueteo. Watercolors are hard. For this digital caveman.
It is said by some authors, that "La Llorona" legend may be a kind of child-myth evolved around cihuateteo's myth.
There's a really cool part, some authors point, that after certain years of serving the sun, they both, fallen warriors and cihuateteo, would transcend. Men becoming beautiful birds or butterflies and women becoming "noble women goddesses", they also returned home for some of their belongings, sometimes being visible to their husbands.