Introduction When you think of the Aztec, what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of the Spanish conquistadors or their beautiful capital at Ethnocentric. What comes to mind for a lot of people Is their practice of human sacrifice. In class, we learned a lot about the civilizations of the Maya and the Inca but not much about the Maya. Chapter 13 of the assigned readings talks about the Aztec and how they came to power and their collapse. One paragraph in the chapter, although morbid and disturbing, caught my attention. “The victim was stretched out over the sacrificial stone.
In seconds, a priest tit an obsidian knife broke open his chest and ripped out his still beating heart, dashing it against the sacrificial stone. ” These sentences refer to the ritual of human sacrificed practiced by the Aztec priests. Body The Aztec believed that they owed everything to the gods who created themselves as well as the world around them. The would perform sacrifices in order for a good crop yield or good weather among other things. They believed that the best way to repay them was to offer up blood to them in regular rituals. Although many Just assume this was human blood, they also sacrificed animals as well.
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Some offerings weren’t shed to the gods. Archaeologists estimate that a few thousand people would have been sacrificed each year. Some were members of the Aztec community but they believe that most were prisoners of war. Instead of killing their enemies in battle, they would sometimes capture them and take them back to the capital to be offered up to the gods. In one ritual, the prisoners were forced to walk up the many stairs of the temple. Once they reached the top, the priest would cut open their stomach from throat to stomach. They would rip out their heart to offer it to the gods.
The bodies were then pushed down the stairs. At the bottom, the body would be dismembered or carried off depending on the ritual. Its hard to believe this sort of activity happened regularly, especially as a public event where people would gather In the square to watch. Human sacrifice was not only an Aztec event. It happened all over the world In several different cultures. It was a part of their religion and a way to please the gods so the Aztec would avoid disaster. No amount of human sacrifice could have stopped their collapse at the hands of the Spaniards.
Human sacrifice was practiced to some extent by many peoples in Mesospheric (and for that matter, around the world) for many centuries. But it was the Aztec empire that really took the ritual to new heights. How many people were sacrificed by the Aztec? We don’t know how many were sacrificed over the years – it’s possible that some accounts are exaggerated – but it was probably thousands each year – tens of thousands or more all together. Some estimates claim 20,000 a year. The Aztec had 18 months In one cycle, and for each of the 18 months there was ritual sacrifice.
The volt would be painted as a part of the ritual, they would be placed on a slab where their heart would be removed and held up to the sun. The body would be thrown down the stairs of the temple/pyramid. Putting on display (the heads). There are some accounts of cannibalism, but it’s uncertain if this was practiced to any great extent. ” Life is because of the gods; with their sacrifice they gave us life…. They produce our sustenance… Which nourishes life. ” What the Aztec priests were referring to was a central Micronesian belief: that a great, on-going sacrifice sustains the Universe.
Everything is tonally: the “spiritual flesh-hood” on earth. Everything -??earth, crops, moon, stars and people-?? springs from the severed or buried bodies, fingers, blood or the heads of the sacrificed gods. Humanity itself is Machiavelli, “those deserved and brought back to life through penance”. A strong sense of indebtedness was connected with this worldview. Indeed, inextricable (debt-payment) was a commonly used metaphor for human sacrifice, and, as Bernardino De Shahs;n reported, it was said that the victim was someone who “gave his service”.
Human sacrifice was in this sense the highest level f an entire panoply of offerings through which the Aztec sought to repay their debt to the gods. Both Shahs;n and Thrombi De Pavement (also called “Antinomian”) observed that the Aztec gladly parted with everything: burying, smashing, sinking, slaying vast quantities of quail, rabbits, dogs, feathers, flowers, insects, beans, grains, paper, rubber and treasures as sacrifices. Even the “stage” for human sacrifice, the massive temple-pyramids, was an offering mound: crammed with treasures, grains, soil and human and animal sacrifices that were buried as gifts to the deities.
Adorned with the land’s finest art, treasure and victims, these temples had become buried offerings under new structures every half a century. The sacrifice of animals was a common practice for which the Aztec bred dogs, eagles, Jaguars and deer. Objects also were sacrificed by being broken and offered to the gods. The cult of Quadruplicate required the sacrifice of butterflies and hummingbirds. Self-sacrifice was also quite common; people would offer magnum thorns, tainted with their own blood and, like the Maya kings, would offer blood from their tongue, ear lobes, or genitals. Blood held a central place in Micronesian cultures.
The Florentine Codex reports that in one of the creation myths Quadruplicate offered blood extracted from a wound in his own genital to give life to humanity. There are several other myths in which Nah gods offer their blood to help humanity. Common people would offer magnum thorns with their blood. Much like the role of sacrifice elsewhere in the world, it thus seems that these rites functioned as a type of atonement for Aztec believers. Their sacrificial hymns describe the victim as “sent (to death) to plead for us”, or “consecrated to annul all In one such poem, a warrior-victim announces that “l embrace mankind…
I give myself to the community”. Aztec society viewed even the slightest totalistic (sin’ or ‘insult’) as an extremely malevolent supernatural force. For instance, if an adulterer were to enter a house, it was believed that all turkey chicks would perish from utilization (“filth-death”). To avoid such calamities befalling their community, those who had erred punished themselves by extreme measures such as slitting their tongues for vices of speech or their ears for vices of listening, and “for a slight sin they] hanged themselves, or threw themselves down precipices, or put an end to underlain each of the Aztec sacrificial rites.