Aztec Part II Social Structure
Moctezuma II Emperor 1502-1520
Religion • Bloody by modern standards. • Some rituals gruesome (Xoce Totec ritual of renewal) • Sacrifice meant to exhibit power and elicit fear. • Fear of Aztec helped reduce resistance. • Reports of cannibalism greatly exaggerated or completely false: no evidence other than possible ritualized cannibalism
Priest Water deity
Warrior Priest King Note earplugs as signs of rank.
Anthropohagi in perspective • The word cannibal was first used by Columbus to equate anthropophagi to the tribes of the Khan (Kublai Khan in China) based on misinterpretation of Arawak accounts. • Survival • Ritual/sacrificial • Subsistence
Bloodletting was thought necessary to ensure the Sun was fed, to maintain the cycle of life. • Priests formed a special class. • During 1300’s rivals within Aztec religious authorities debated over pantheistic or monotheistic system.
The Texcocoans erected a temple for the one almighty god (Tloque Nahuague) which did not include a sacrificial altar. He is said to have resided at the highest point of heaven and did not interfere in human lives. • Mexica resolved to include pantheon of gods.
As with Maya, gods often had many forms and responsibilities. Quetzacoatl could be a wind god, god of life, represent Venus, a reincarnated king… • Everyone feared the gods and priestly predictions affected behavior.
Sacrifice • Blood sacrifice was an important feature of Aztec religion. • Thousands were sacrificed each year.
Obsidian workers feather crafters stone workers weavers architects physicians painters Gold workers traders merchants Pochteca materials scientists teachers civil servants pharmacists Craft specialization
The Arts Aztec flute.
Roles • Women and men had distinct social obligations and status • Much of what we know comes from post-conquest manuscripts of the Aztec.
The game Patolli. Players use beans with numbers like dice to gamble on outcome. Invoke the name of Maculixochtli. Four directions divided in 13 equal sacred 52
Eagle Knight. Lifesize statue. Nezahualcoyotl of the Tetzcoco
Farming tasks. Maize to feed the multitudes. Eggs and insects
Invasion and Conquest • Cortez arrives at Vera Cruz in 1519. • Aztec population at time of invasion over 2 million. • Three years later population reduced to 70,000. • Many contemporary critics of Cortez. • His cousin Pizarro will invade Peru.