Aztec Culture and Society

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The Aztec Empire’s capital city was Tenochtitlan which was founded in 1325. In the 15 and early 16 centuries ruled the empire which is now southern Mexico. Aztecs are so called from Aztlan which can also be called White land.

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They often referred themselves as Culhua-Mexica they call themselves this because they link themselves with the Colhacan. They were suggested to be a tribe of hunters and gathers. In 1428-1440 when they were under the ruling of Itzcoatl the Tenochtitlan formed alliances with the states of Texcoco and Tlacopan. Soon they had become the dominant power in central Mexico. The population of the Aztec had started off with a low number of people. In 1519 there were around 25,000,000 Aztec people. When the Spaniards came they killed many and also brought many diseases. The Spaniards brought diseases such as smallpox, mumps, tuberculosis which they did not have the right medicine to treat these diseases. The Aztec religion was syncretistic. It shared some of the cosmological beliefs from the earlier people. They also did human sacrifice they particularly did it by offering up the humans heart they sacrificed they heart to Tonatiuh. Their calendar which had eighteen months with twenty days in each month. In the center of the calendar there was usually was the face of the sun. It elaborated round rituals and ceremonies. At least once a month they had a to honor a god or gods. They mainly worshipped the sun god. They also sacrificed animals.

Some of the animals they sacrificed were cats, birds, fish, snakes. They also sacrificed jaguars they did this rarely because this was considered a powerful religious symbol. Aztecs valued music. They used it also for their religious reasons. They used instruments sucks as horns, drums, whistles, rattles and bells. They were also hunters and gathers. They hunted deer, boars, birds, and they also fished/trapped other marine animals. They kept things such as turkey and ducks. They used these for eggs and meat. They also grew crops such as corn, chilies, pigweed, and beans. They drank water and polque. They had big markets. They used these markets to buy, sell, and trade things. They also had judges in case of theft or is any arguments to place. Some things they would trade were baskets, pots. Also they had luxury goods’ they would sell or trade some of them were cocoa beans, animal skins, and gold. Live animals were also sold at the market. Some of the Aztec merchants would travelon long trips to go get goods from distant lands. They often made their art for religious reasons. They made stone sculptures of their gods.

They love to use colorful feathers. They used the feathers for headdresses and to decorate their shields. They also made pottery, carvings, stamps. They liked to make animals using art. They would make animals such as dogs, monkeys, and snakes. The Aztec games were not just played entertainment they were also played for their religious reasons. One game is patolli. This game is played on a rock board shaped as a cross. The four parts of the cross had cells or spaces. The first person to get around the whole board wins the game.Another popular game was Tlachtli. This game was played with two teams. This game was played on an H shaped field that was between two walls. With a rubber ball that was 8 to 10 pounds you had to get it to the other teams side. You could only use your hips and feet to get the ball through the stone ring. One other game was a gambling game known as totologue . What you had to do on this game was hit a target with a gold pellet. Jacks and Marbles was another game. You will toss a small rock trying to hit clay balls. The wealthy Aztecs built their homes out of adobe. Adobe was built out of adobe clay which they let the sun dry out into brick shapes. These houses had four rooms, one was for the family to sleep in , a shrine, a place to cook food, and a place where the family would eat.

They would make the roof out of two things one would be a thatched roof and the other is a terraced roof. The poorer people lived in huts. Their temple were built similar to pyramids. They had steps on there pyramids. The men of families could often have more than one wife. Usually only the wealthy men had more than just one wife, the men that were poor often only had one wife. If a man had more than one wife only the primary wife would go through the ceremony. The men was the more dominate but women also had power. Some of the poor would sell their children or themselves as slaves to pay off their debts. They got their education from bot home and school. No matter what social status you or you family was every child was educated. None of the people wrote. The only people that would write were the priest and scribes. From the ages four and five the children would stay at home with the partens. The little girls would learn from their mothers how to keep a household running. The little boys would learned from their fathers how to get food also how to trade and make things. The children stayed at home with their parents till the age of fourteen learning what the need to know. The boys could go to one of two schools the Calmecac or the Telpochcalli. The Calmecac prepared the boys to work for the government or in temples. The Telpochcalli help teach boys the life as a potter, farmer, soldier, and metal worker. This all depended on your status in society.

The lower classes did most of the labor and the upper classes worked in temples or for the government. At the top you had the king or emperor. The Aztec clothing often did not cover the whole body. They wore their clothes kinda loose. They made their clothes out of cotton and ayate fiber. Ayate fiber was made from a cactus plant called maguey cactus. The mean would wear a mantle which was tied on the right shoulder and a loincloth. The women would wear a cueltl or a huipil. Their hair would be worn in two braids which rose on the side of the head and looked like horns. War was not just known and fighting war the term ‘war’ was also used as a term of childbirth. The warriors carried projectile weapons. The lowest rank you had they only gave you a club and shield. The higher rank that you were the more decorated your shield was. Also as your rank got higher the better weapon you would receive. They type of weapons they had were bow and arrows, slings, blowguns, and clubs. The shield they used was made out of wood. The suit they wore was made out of two or three layers of cotton soaked in salt brine. Nahuah was one of the spoken languages by people in the area. It is said that the most dominate speakers were the Nahuatl speakers. Nahuatl is an agglutinant language. An agglutinant language is one were you make phrases or words by combining suffixes and prefixes. They only have four basic vowels. These vowels are i,e,a,o. They also counted by twenties.

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