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Transcript of Aztec Indians
The Aztec civilization (flourished in Mesoamerica between 1345 and 1521 CE)
Bloodthirsty human sacrifice with tales of the beating heart being ripped from the still-conscious victim, decapitation, skinning and dismemberment.
Strictly ritualized process which gave the highest possible honor to the gods and was regarded as a necessity to ensure mankind’s continued prosperity.
Origins & Purpose
Not the first civilization in Mesoamerica to practice human sacrifice.
Olmec civilization (1200-300 BCE) which first began such rituals on their sacred pyramids.
Thousands of victims were sacrificed each year at the great Aztec religious sites.
The burning of tobacco and incense.
Offering of other living creatures such as, deer, butterflies and snakes.
Foods and objects of precious metals, jade and shells which could be ritually buried.
Dough images of gods (tzoalli).
These were made from ground amaranth mixed with human blood and honey, with the sculpture being burnt or eaten after the ritual.
Dress & Preparation
Children & Slaves
To honor the rain god, Tlaloc, in ceremonies held on sacred mountains.
It was believed that the tears of the child victims would then turn into rain.
Slaves could accompany their ruler in death or be given in offering by tradesmen to ensure prosperity in business.
In Nahuatl the word for sacrifice is "vemana" which derives from "ventli" (offering) and "mana" ‘to spread out’ representing the belief that sacrifices helped in the cycle of growth and death in food, life and energy.
Meat was burnt or blood poured over the statues of supernatural beings
Specially chosen individuals were dressed as a particular god before the sacrifice.
The victim was treated like royalty for one year prior to the sacrificial ceremony.
Tutored by priests, given a female entourage and honored with dances and flowers, the victim was the god’s manifestation on earth.
Human sacrifices were viewed as a repayment for the sacrifices the gods had themselves made in creating the world and the sun. (based off a myth)
Gods were ‘fed’ and ‘nourished’ with the sacrificed blood and flesh which ensured the continued balance and prosperity of Aztec society.
Selection & Preparation of Victims
Those who had fought the most bravely or were the most handsome were considered the best candidates for sacrifice and more likely to please the gods.
Reserved for those victims most worthy and was considered a high honor, a direct communion with a god.
Ritual ball-games where the losing captain or even the entire team paid the ultimate price for defeat.
Ceremonies & Death
Specially dedicated temples on the top of large pyramids (Tenochtitlan, Texcocoand, and Tlacopan.)
Stretching the victim over a special stone, cutting open the chest and removing the heart using an obsidian or flint knife.
Heart placed in a stone vessel (cuauhxicalli) or in a chacmool (a stone figure carved with a recipient on their midriff) and burnt in offering to the god being sacrificed to.
The victim could be dismembered.
Sacrifice- Method 2
Single victim was made to fight a gladiatorial contest against a squad of hand-picked warriors.
No possibility to survive or even inflict any injury on his opponents.
Tied to a stone platform (temalacatl) but his weapon was usually a feathered club while his opponents had vicious razor-sharp obsidian swords (macuauhuitl).
Sacrifice- Method 3
Victims could be tied to a frame and shot with arrows or darts.
Worst method of all.
The victim was repeatedly thrown into a fire and then had his heart removed.
Heads of victims could be displayed in racks (tzompantli), of which are still in stone architectural decoration.
Flesh of those sacrificed was also eaten by the priests conducting the sacrifice and by members of the ruling elite or warriors who had captured the victims.
Danielle Gillespie & Reed Hamp
Priests and audience stabbed, pierced and bled themselves as autosacrifice during the sacrifice.
Hymns, whistles, spectacular costumed dances and percussive music marked different phases of the ritual.
Is it still practiced today?
Yes, human sacrifice is still used although it is less common.
The Aztec people were certain ethnic groups of Central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica.
Acolhua and Tepanec ethnic groups.