Dig into the mysteries of Aztec history right here! What was ancient Aztec art and culture like? What about the Aztec religion? And the legendary Aztec sacrifices?
The Aztec Empire was peopled by a group that was once nomadic, the Mexicas. Their chroniclers told them that after their long journey from Aztlán, they found themselves to be outcasts, until they found thesign sent to them by their god Huitzilopochtli, and began to build their city. And so the Mexica peoples continued, and the Aztec Empire began.
The city of Tenochitlan was soon to become one of the largest cities in the world. The power of the Mexica peoples became more consolidated, and they began to form alliances. Their military power grew as well, and they began to conquer peoples in thesurrounding areas.
At the height of its power, the Aztec Empire was organized and strong, but ruled with fear. In 1519, a clash of cultures was to take place, unlike anything before it. Although there was much tragedy in both the Spanish and Aztec empires before this, the meeting of the two civilizations was disastrous. In a few short years, the culture and structure of one of historiesgreatest empires would have virtually vanished.
Did you know...
* Each Aztec home had a steam bath!
* It is said that the major Aztec
Ancient Aztec Religion
Ancient Aztec religion hymn:
Huitzilopochtli is first in rank, no one, no one is like unto him: not vainly do I sing (his praises) coming forth in the garb of our ancestors;
I shine; I glitter.
~The Hymn of Huitzilopochtli(trans. by Daniel G. Brinton)
Ancient Aztec religion was a complex interaction of gods, dates, directions and colours. It seems that most of the preoccupation in the religion had to do with fear of the nature, and a fear of the end of the world.
By the time the Mexica's Empire (Mexica is the proper name for the Axtecs) was at its height, the political and religions systems were in closeinteraction. The actions of the ruling classes and common people can be best understood if we look way back to the Mexica understanding of the creation, or rather creations, of the world. Because the religion was a mixture from various peoples, there are variations. We'll give a general overview here.
In the Beginnings
Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent
According to ancient Aztec religion, it took thegods 5 tries to create the world. These attempts were foiled because of infighting among the gods themselves. After he was knocked from his exalted position by rivals, the first creator, Tezcatlipoca, turned into a jaguar and destroyed the world. Under similar circumstances, the world was created and then destroyed with wind, and then two floods.
Each time a creator-god would take a turnbeing the sun. (Read more about the various Aztec sun gods here) Finally the gods had a council, and decided one of them would have to sacrifice himself to be the new sun. Nanauatl, a lowly, humble god became the sun, but there was a problem - he wasn't moving. The gods realized that they all must sacrifice themselves so that humans could live. The god Ehecatl sacrificed the others, and a mightywind arose to move the sun at last.
This was no free sacrifice, however. Not only would the people have to help this weak sun to keep moving, they would also be responsible to repay the sacrifice. The world remained in a precarious position!
Once the sun was dealt with, the world had to be recreated. Quetzalcoatl (meaning feathered serpent) was the one who would create humans. Ofcourse, people had been created several times before, so Quetzalcoatl descended into the underworld to retrieve their bones. He tripped as he fled, and the bones shattered into different sized pieces, which is why people are all different sizes. By adding his own blood to the mix, people came to life.
For another variation and more detail, see the Aztec creation story here.
The calendar and the...