Aztec Culture

Aztec Culture

The term Aztec commonly refers to the Nahuatl-speaking, ethnic factions that existed in parts of Central Mexico between the 12th and 16th centuries AD. One of the last in a succession of complex cultures in Mesoamerica, they reflected traits of their forerunners such as the Maya and Teotihuacan. Aztec culture and Aztec history is filled with rich and invigorating legends.

Social Status In The Aztec Culture

Their social setup was primarily divided into the nobility or ‘Pilli’, and the commoners or ‘macehualles’. The nobility occupied most of the important political positions and controlled the society’s fiscal resources. Commoners formed the majority of the Aztec population, and within themselves one could find ample variations in wealth and status, mainly because they could rise to the position of a pilli by virtue of skill and gallantry in warfare. The Aztecs were primarily warriors, and war was not just to capture new territory, but also a means to capture prisoners for their various religious sacrifices. Failure in a battle meant disgrace to whoever was responsible, and it often resulted in their sacrifice.

Aztec Economy

Aztec economy was based on agriculture. Corn and maize were cultivated extensively along with beans, avocados, squashes, potatoes, and tomatoes. They also produced a variety of utilitarian goods like cotton textiles, ceramic cookware, and a variety of tools, all of which were used in trade and contributed to their economy. Family was an important part in the life of the Aztecs. Their social organization was such that males were house builders, farmers or craftsmen, while the females looked after the homes and children, made clothes, and cared for the livestock.

Aztec Culture And Religion

Primarily polytheistic, Aztec religion was ruled by a variety of gods, of which the prominent ones were ‘Tezcatlipoca’, a powerful creator god and the patron of kings; ‘Quetzalcoatl’, the god of learning and patron of priests; ‘Tlaloc’, an ancient central Mexican rain god; and ‘Huitzilopochtli’, the patron god of the Mexican people, also the war and the sun god. The rituals were supervised by professional priests. Human sacrifices were a striking feature of Aztec civilization. As per their myths, since the gods had sacrificed themselves in order to create the earth, sun, moon, and humans, offerings and human sacrifices were a means of repaying their debt. Archaeological excavations of Aztec sites have unearthed domestic altars, incense burners, and clay figurines which were used during religious services.

Aztec Art, Writing And Cuture

Even though, medical practices among the Aztecs were pragmatic, their superior knowledge was highly rated in the treatment of wounds and many other diseases. Ardent sun and moon worshipers, they developed several astronomical calendars according to which their rituals were based.

Like the Mayans, the Aztec developed a form of pictorial representations, which were used for purposes like calculations, chronicles, diaries, and history. The decline of the Aztec civilization and Aztec culture started with the advent of Spanish conquistadors, and towards the later part of the 16th century, almost 95% of the population were wiped out as an outcome of war. Subsequently, the new city of Mexico was founded on the ruins of the the Aztec capital - Tenochtitlan.