History of the Ancient Aztec

The Aztecs are one of the greatest ancestors of Mexicans, they have contributed a lot especially to their architecture and religion. This lens captures the Aztecs' rich and diverse culture, the ethnic people and their history, beliefs, laws, and their cultural heritage. Stick around and learn some history today.

The Aztec People

The Aztecs were Nahuatl-speaking people that lived in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries of the Mesoamerican chronology.

One of the things that make Aztec people distinguishable today is the way the dressed.

Aztec Clothing

Aztec women wore a cloth which they wrap around their waist making it a skirt; men wore loinclothes with a sleeveless poncho or a cloak over it.

They are fond of wearing bright-colored head dresses which became their trademark. These head dresses were made from tropical bird's feathers which they trade and pluck to weave into a colorful accessory. The Aztec men always bring with them a small pouch used to carry cocoa leaves to chew and amulets for good luck. All women practiced weaving and spinning for their families and for them to contribute woven goods as taxes to the government.

In Aztec tradition, the marginalized or poor people of their time were not allowed to dress lavishly. It was a crime for poor people or just a commoner to wear cotton clothes and their punishment is death.

Sports

They also have two major sports just for enjoyment: tlachtli and patolli. The tlachtli was a ball game and the patolli was a gambling game played with beans and pebbles. These games are their way of entertainment especially for the commoners.

Etymology

The term 'Aztec' is the Nahuatl word for "people of Aztlan", their mythological place where they believed to have come from. The Aztecs were people from certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, they are the ancestors of the Mexicans. Today's modern world, the word Aztec is known to be the historical people of Mexico.

Aztec warrior
Aztec warrior | Source

Laws

The Aztecs had harsh laws and punishments, mostly death. The Tlatoani or the Great Speaker was the head of the law courts, priesthood, army, and talks to their gods. During a court trial, a criminal was brought to court where there was a group of judges and the head was the emperor. There were also specially chosen people who would act as the jury.


During their time, it was a crime for Aztec people to commit adultery, for cutting down a living tree, for moving a field boundary, and for major theft; all of which were given death sentences. For being drunk or drunkenness, their head will be shaved and their house gets destroyed for the first offense. For the second offense, you'll be sentenced as death. If committed kidnapping, handling stolen property and minor theft, the punishment would be slavery. And the worst of all crime was for the people who committed treason, they will be given a death sentence, loss of property, their house gets burned, and children sold into slavery.

Truly, the Aztecs were bold people with violent punishments and disciplined government, thus they are required to obey the law all the time.

Aztec Poll

You know Aztec because of

  • their temples and pyramids
  • their violent sacrifices
  • their downfall caused by the Spaniards
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Mythology and Religion

The Aztecs believed in many gods and goddesses, they believed in the supernatural and the force of nature. They offered sacrifices and tributes to please their gods. Mythology was their religion.

The Aztec people believed in Talocan, a place where the gods and goddesses resides. Tezcatlipoca (dark side of life) was the god of magic, death, and war; he has a missing foot for trying to drag the earth to the waters before man was even created. The goddess Coatlicue represents the pain of life, she wears a serpent skirt which represents poverty, and claw and heart necklace representing the pains of life. Xipe Totec was the god of spring and new life, he was known to be wearing a human skin. As a tribute to him, a human sacrifice was skinned alive and this is then worn by priests to show new life bursting from the old.

Tloque Nahuaque was the supreme god of all, he was the lord of everywhere. Quetzalcoatl was the god of knowledge, creation, priesthood and wind. Another god was Xochipilli, he was the prince of flowers, dawn, dance and love. Huehuetecti was the god of fire which was known as the toothless old man. Mictlantecuhtl was the god of the dead for those people who died of natural death.

These people worshiped hundreds of gods and goddesses and religion is extremely imported to them. In fact, the coat of arms of Mexico came from the Aztec Mythology.

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CarolynEmerick 2 years ago

Interesting article, I enjoy reading about ancient cultures, so thank you!

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