[34], Tezcatlipoca was generally considered the most powerful god, the god of night, sorcery and destiny (the name tezcatlipoca means "smoking mirror", or "obsidian"), and the god of the north. Other types of human sacrifice, which paid tribute to various deities, killed the victims differently. During the 20-day month of Toxcatl, a young impersonator of Tezcatlipoca would be sacrificed. Indeed, nextlahualli (debt-payment) was a commonly used metaphor for human sacrifice, and, as Bernardino de Sahagún reported, it was said that the victim was someone who "gave his service". All the male population was trained to be warriors, but only the few who succeeded in providing captives could become full-time members of the warrior elite. While human sacrifice was practiced throughout Mesoamerica, the Aztecs, if their own accounts are to be believed, brought this practice to an unprecedented level. If the Sun appeared it meant that the sacrifices for this cycle had been enough. [28], It is doubtful if many victims came from far afield. It is clear from his description of their fear and resentment toward the Mexicas that, in their opinion, it was no honor to surrender their kinsmen to be sacrificed by them.[57]. 142. The Nahua's religious beliefs were based on a great fear that the universe would collapse after each cycle if the gods were not strong enough. Many other types of foods were available to the Aztecs, including meat from salamanders, fowls, armadillos, and weasels. The sacrifice was considered an offering to the deity. For each festival, at least one of the victims took on the paraphernalia, habits, and attributes of the god or goddess whom they were dying to honor or appease. It is often assumed that all victims were 'disposable' commoners or foreigners. Many of the children suffered from serious injuries before their death, they would have to have been in significant pain as Tlaloc required the tears of the young as part of the sacrifice. [39][better source needed][citation needed], Tlaloc is the god of rain, water, and earthly fertility. [33], During the festival of Panquetzaliztli, of which Huitzilopochtli was the patron, sacrificial victims were adorned in the manner of Huitzilopochtli's costume and blue body paint, before their hearts would be sacrificially removed. [28][63][64] Overall, ecological factors alone are not sufficient to account for human sacrifice and, more recently, it is posited that religious beliefs have a significant effect on motivation.[67]. Other Mesoamerican cultures, such as the Purépechas and Toltecs, performed sacrifices as well and from archaeological evidence, it probably existed since the time of the Olmecs (1200–400 BC), and perhaps even throughout the early farming cultures of the region. In addition, even if no herbivores were available to eat, the nutrients needed were found in the leaves and seeds of amaranth which also provided protein. Xiuhtecuhtli is the god of fire and heat and in many cases is considered to be an aspect of Huehueteotl, the "Old God" and another fire deity. However, from the perspective of the Aztec, sacrifice was necessary to ensure the survival of life. A wide variety of interpretations of the Aztec practice of human sacrifice have been proposed by modern scholars. Archived. [32] The body would be carried away and either cremated or given to the warrior responsible for the capture of the victim. 97.) This flame would then be used to light all of the ceremonial fires in various temples throughout the city of Tenochtitlan. It is representative of a set of codices known collectively as the Magliabechiano Group (others in the group include the Codex Tudela and the Codex Ixtlilxochitl). [70] The hierarchy of cities like Tenochtitlan were tiered with the Tlatoani (emperor) on the top, the remaining nobles (pipiltin) next who managed the land owned by the emperor. ​This was one way in which the Aztec received people for their ritual sacrifice. This shows how important capturing enemies for sacrifice was as it was the singular way of achieving some type of "nobility". [52] Martyr d'Anghiera, Lopez de Gomara, Oviedo y Valdes and Illescas, while not in Mesoamerica, wrote their accounts based on interviews with the participants. These cultures also notably sacrificed elements of their own population to the gods. [37], To appease Huehueteotl, the fire god and a senior deity, the Aztecs had a ceremony where they prepared a large feast, at the end of which they would burn captives; before they died they would be taken from the fire and their hearts would be cut out. However, the extent of human sacrifice is unknown among several Mesoamerican civilizations, such as Teotihuacán. [40] The Aztecs believed that if sacrifices were not supplied for Tlaloc, rain would not come, their crops would not flourish, and leprosy and rheumatism, diseases caused by Tlaloc, would infest the village. These battles occurred at different times of the year than the campaigns of conquest that the Aztec used to expand their empire and were much different in their intent. [13], Human sacrifice rituals were performed at the appropriate times each month with the appropriate number of living bodies, and other goods. explore the possible relationship between human sacrifice (HS) and the evolution of hierarchical societies. Imagine a native of what is now southern Mexico in the year 1500 CE. Hymns, whistles, spectacular costumed dances and percussive music marked different phases of the rite. Sacrifice was a common theme in the Aztec culture. [50] Even whilst still alive, ixiptla victims were honored, hallowed and addressed very highly. Many Aztec sacrifices took place for public viewing in order to show the religious legitimacy of the rulers and their military policies or … Inspired by a scene of human sacrifice in the Codex Magliabechiano, the painting shows indigenous Mesoamericans dining peacefully on human body parts while an Aztec god salivates over a bound and panicked Mickey Mouse. Since the late 1970s, excavations of the offerings in the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan, and other archaeological sites, have provided physical evidence of human sacrifice among the Mesoamerican peoples.[4][5][6]. At length the man who offers the sacrifice strips him naked, and leads him at once to the stairway of the tower where is the stone idol. Heart-extraction was viewed as a means of liberating the istli and reuniting it with the Sun, as depicted in Codex Magliabechiano, Folio 70 (illustrated in this section), wherein a victim's transformed heart flies Sunward on a trail of blood. Four tables were arranged at the top so that the victims could be jettisoned down the sides of the temple. The purpose of the Flower Wars was for warriors to practice and display their combat skills while also allowing them the ability to take prisoners for the purpose of sacrifice. u/gustav_black. Walter Burkert has argued for such a fundamental identity of animal and human sacrifice in the connection of a hunting hypothesis which traces the emergence of human religious behaviour to the beginning of behavioural modernity in the Upper Paleolithic(roughly 50,000 years ago). [61] [52] By dehumanizing and villainizing Aztec culture, the Spaniards were able to justify their own actions for conquest. Prior to death and dismemberment the victim's skin would be removed and worn by individuals who traveled throughout the city fighting battles and collecting gifts from the citizens.[45]. Both Xiuhtecuhtli and Huehueteotl were worshipped during the festival of Izcalli. Harner believes that although intensified agricultural practices provided the Aztec society a surplus of carbohydrates, they did not provide sufficient nutritional balance;[3] for this reason, the cannibalistic consumption of sacrificed humans was needed to supply an appropriate amount of protein per individual. Documentation of Aztec human sacrifice and cannibalism mainly dates from the period after the Spanish conquest. Both Sahagún and Toribio de Benavente (also called "Motolinía") observed that the Aztecs gladly parted with everything. This concept is best related to the Aztec god. [2][3] There are a number of second-hand accounts of human sacrifices written by Spanish friars, that relate to the testimonies of native eyewitnesses. [3] As population increased and the amount of available game decreased, the Aztecs had to compete with other carnivorous mammals, such as dogs, to find food. Juan de Grijalva was one of the first Spaniards to explore Mexico and traveled on his expedition in 1518 with Juan Díaz. [12] In addition, regular warfare included the use of long range weapons such as atlatl darts, stones, and sling shots to damage the enemy from afar. Posted by. [46] All fires were extinguished and at midnight a human sacrifice was made. Cortés was the Spanish conquistador whose expedition to Mexico in 1519 led to the fall of the Aztecs, and led to the conquering of vast sections of Mexico on behalf of the Crown of Castile. The young man would climb the pyramid, break his flute and surrender his body to the priests. In 1454, the Aztec government forbade the slaying of captives from distant lands at the capital's temples. [11], This type of warfare differed from regular political warfare, as the Flower war was also used for combat training and as first exposure to war for new military members. And they went on killing them in all the feasts which followed, until the rains really began. [17] The conquistadors Cortés and Alvarado found that some of the sacrificial victims they freed "indignantly rejected [the] offer of release and demanded to be sacrificed".[18]. Then he anoints the mouths of all the other idols of wood and stone, and sprinkles blood on the cornice of the chapel of the principal idol. Tezcatlipoca was known by several epithets including "the Enemy" and "the Enemy of Both Sides", which stress his affinity for discord. 2002. The youth would represent Tezcatlipoca on earth; he would get four beautiful women as his companions until he was killed. Using a sample of 93 Austronesian cultures Watts et al. [44], Xipe Totec was worshipped extensively during the festival of Tlacaxipehualiztli, in which captured warriors and slaves were sacrificed in the ceremonial center of the city of Tenochtitlan. The aim of Part B. is to establish that human sacrifice fulfilled Aztec needs for personal and communal transformation. “Some historians believe that the Aztecs used to sound the death whistle in order to help the deceased journey into the underworld. Harner's main argument lies within his claim that cannibalism is needed to assist the diet of the Aztecs. Cortés wrote of Aztec sacrifice on numerous occasions, one of which in his Letters, he states: They have a most horrid and abominable custom which truly ought to be punished and which until now we have seen in no other part, and this is that, whenever they wish to ask something of the idols, in order that their plea may find more acceptance, they take many girls and boys and even adults, and in the presence of these idols they open their chests while they are still alive and take out their hearts and entrails and burn them before the idols, offering the smoke as sacrifice. [16] Duran says such victims were 'worshipped ... as the deity'[16] or 'as though they had been gods'. This serves to underline the complex [11] The droughts and damage to the crops were believed to be punishment by the gods for feeling unappreciated instead of being honored properly.
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