Death required a special set of rituals to help the deceased soul disengage from the world of the living and seek her or his place in the afterlife, which varied according to how she or he had died. Funerary rites varied according to the social class of the departed. Generally the deceased was placed in a fetal position and wrapped in paper. A piece of jade was placed in the corpse's mouth if she or he had been affluent, while a simple stone was used for the poor. The tools the deceased had used during his or her life were placed alongside the body along with food and water for the journey to the next world. A red dog also was sacrificed in the belief that it would assist the deceased in crossing the river between the world of the living and the afterlife. Rulers and dignitaries were adorned in the attire of a god, and some of his spouses and servants were sacrificed to accompany him into death. Some of these victims were tribute from allied or subject kings.
Although the corpses of those who had died from drowning or childbirth or from water-related illnesses were buried, most cadavers were cremated. After cremation, the ashes were placed in an urn and brought to the person's home or, in the case of royalty, to the temple of a prominent deity. After eighty days and again after two years additional rites were held to aid the deceased's passage to the next world; after four years it was assumed that the deceased had arrived in the next world and all ceremonies were ended. A separate set of rites were held to accompany the burial of those who had died from drowning or childbirth or from water-related illnesses. In a set of rites associated with the water deities, before burial their foreheads were painted blue and amaranth was placed in their jawbones, and they also had paper adornments tied around their necks and were dressed in paper clothing. A special set of rituals were observed for warriors who had fallen in battle or pochteca (merchants) who had died abroad. An effigy was created of the dead man and was treated the same as a real body. During the mourning period the wife and children of the dead man were not allowed to wash their faces or hair.