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Transcript of Tenochtitlan!
I hope that you learned at least a little bit more about Aztec marriage customs, the way that family life worked, what kind of food Aztecs ate, what happened in Aztec markets, their different religious practices, and what the Aztecs did for recreation.
By the way . . . . WE LOVE MAIZE!!!
Welcome to Tenochtitlan!!!
Welcome to Tenochtitlan!!! For those who never been to this
civilized society, let us give you a brief introduction and stick some
knowledge inside your smarty brains! Tenochtitlan was the capital city of
the Aztecs' which slowly and stably developed into one of the largest cities
in the world!!! This majestic city is even larger than London, Paris, or Venice.
Their population was among 200,000 and 300,000 people. This imaginary
trip to Tenochtitlan suggests many aspects of daily life for Aztecs in the 1400s. In this presentation, you'll explore all the elements in life for the
Aztecs', such as Aztec class structure, marriage, family life (like what was the role for everyone in the family), food (like their diet and what farmers or any individuals eat), markets (how people got their food (by money or bartering)) or
(what was sold at the finest markets in Tenochtitlan), religious practices
(did people believe that making sacrifices gave their god their strength),
and recreation (what did Aztecs do in their spare time).
Religion was the center of life in Aztec society. The Aztecs adopted some of their gods from other Mesoamerican groups. Their chief god was Huitzilopochtli, the sun god and the god of war. The Aztecs saw the sun as a warrior who fought each night against the forces of darkness. They also believed that blood kept Huitzilopochtli strong enough to keep beating darkness and that the universe depended on their sacrifices. They would sacrifice hundreds of birds to Huitzilopochtli, but the richest form of sacrifices was that of humans. The way sacrifices were done were four priest would pin on the stone in front of Huitzilopochtli's temple whiles another priest would cut out your heart.
Thousands of people were sacrificed a year in Tenochtitlan alone. Overall, the Aztecs practiced human sacrifice more than any other Mesoamerican group.
While work, warfare, and religion were important to the Aztecs, they still had time for recreation and fun. Some things that they enjoyed were music and dance, and for nobles, hunting. They also liked to played a board game called
All social classes were able to play patolli, a game played on a board shaped like a cross that was divided into 52 squares. Five times around the board equaled 260, and this board symbolized the 260-day calendar. To move around on the board, players had to throw some white beans marked with holes, and the holes told them how many spaces to move the colored stones that represented the players. This is similar to throwing a dice. The first person around the board all 5 times was declared winner.
All social classes played patolli, but probably only nobles played a ball game called
where the players try to get a rubber ball through a small ring on the other team's side of the court without touching the ball with their hands or feet. Because they could not touch the ball with their hands or feet, they had to throw themselves on the ground to hit the ball with their elbow, knees, and hips. Tlatchtli was played on a long and narrow court shaped like the letter I and was surrounded with high walls. Hundreds of spectators gathered to watch these tlachtli matches. They often risked their clothes, feathers, gold, or all their wealth by betting on which team would be victorious.
Tlachtli had religious meaning as well. The Aztecs had believed that the court represented the world and the ball represented a heavenly body. Because of this, Aztecs built tlachtli courts near the most important temples.
Marriage and family life were important to Aztecs of all social classes. Marriage marked an Aztec child's entry into adulthood. Most men married around the age of 20, while young women tended to marry around 16.
Marriages were organized by the families of the bride and groom. The young man's family chose the bride, they then set off to find a matchmaker, an older woman who approached the bride's family for the proposal. It was normal for the bride's family to deny at first, so the matchmaker then returned a few days later to see if they have a change in heart. This time the bride's family usually accepted the proposal and set the
Even to commoners, an Aztec wedding was as intricate and exciting as the families could afford. The celebration began at the bride's house with relatives, friends, the groom's teachers, and the important people of the calpulli. The all enjoyed a banquet with the bride and gave her presents for her life as a wife.
After the banquet at the bride's house, the guests parade to the groom's dwelling for the wedding ceremony. The matchmaker, carried the bride on her back to the ceremonial wedding. During the ceremony the matchmaker tied the groom's cloak to the bride's blouse to symbolize the bond.
After the wedding , the young couple retired to the bridal chamber to pray for four days, while their guests celebrated for the happy union . On the fifth day, the couple surface from the chamber and attended another grand banquet then they settled down on a pieces of land in the groom's calpulli.
The Aztecs permitted men to practice
, or to marry more than one wife. An Aztec man could marry as many wives as he could afford and take care of. However, only one of the wives was considered the "primary" wife, and only marriage to the primary wife was celebrated with special rites and ceremonies.
If a marriage was discontented, either spouse could ask for a divorce for the better-good. A man could divorce his wife if she abandoned her duties at home, was short-tempered, or did not care for children. A woman could divorce her husband if he chastise her violently, ditched her, or failed to take care of her and her children. Aztec society encouraged divorced women and men to remarry for a happy life.
Men obviously had more rights than women, but Aztec women, however, had their own rights and responsibilities. Married women could own property and sell goods, others practiced a profession, such as matchmaking or midwifery.
Among commoners, the skills of both men and women were necessary to care for the household and the family. Men built the house an worked as farmers or at a craft and women were responsible for everyone's meals, the garden, and the livestock. Many Aztec women wove beautiful clothes of many colors or made cloaks in patterns of the sun designs or with images of shells, fish, cacti snakes, or butterflies. Women traded the cloaks for other goods at the town's market.
One of a woman's most important jobs was to bear and care for children. The Aztecs believed that the purpose of marriage was to bring children into the world, so they honored a woman's role in giving birth as much as they did a man's role in fighting wars.
Aztec parents began training their children at a young age, so all children of commoners helped out around the house. Little boys fetched water and wood, while older boys learned how to fish and handle a canoe. Eventually boys accompanied their fathers to work or to the market. Girls' tasks centered on running a home and included cleaning house and grinding maize. Around the age of seven, girls began learning to weave from their mothers.
In addition to working, all boys attended school, yet commoners probably started school around the age of six, but they only attended part-time. At the telpochcalli, or "house of youth," boys mostly trained to be soldiers, but the sons of nobles went to the calmecac instead, where they learned the skills of being priests, government officials, or military commanders. The higher rank you are, the better schools and jobs your children would get.
Markets were an important part of the Aztec economy. Each city in the empire had its own market where everyone came together to find their personal needs. Large towns held markets everyday, however, small markets were only held about five days a week. Some towns have specialties like; the people of Tenochtitlan might travel nearby Texcoco for fine cloth and to faraway Acolman to buy dogs for meat.
Unlike other markets, Aztecs used a bartering system instead of using paper money (like the Chinese), cowrie shells, coins, etc. Everyone traded one item for another and when people came upon expensive goods, they had to agree-upon value. For example, a warrior's costume and shield were worth about 60 cotton cloaks.
Many individuals brought their wares to market, farmers brought extra crops that they had grown, and craftspeople brought handmade goods. Some special markets such as pochteca, had a special place where everyone brought exotic goods from faraway places to trade. These goods includes fine green jade, quetzal feathers, raw materials (that were unavailable around Tenochtitlan), metals like gold and silver, as well as tortoiseshells (for making spoons).
The market also had a social purpose too. People from all over the place gathered together to gossip, hear the news of the day, and just hung out with their friends and family. Some people basically enjoyed strolling up and down the aisles, buying snacks and seeing all the wonderful things that the sellers had to offer.
Like any other society, the Aztec society was based on hierarchy. There are a total of five main classes that fills the social pyramid: the ruler; the government officials, priests, and military leaders; commoners; peasants; and then the slaves.
The Aztec ruler, or emperor, was considered semi-divine. They maintained the empire and decided when to wage war. The position of the ruler was not hereditary which means it wasn't passed on from parent to child, or you can say that the position of an emperor wasn't inherited to the son. Instead of inheriting, a group of advisors chose the new ruler from the emperor's family.
The emperor was supported by a noble class of government officials, priests, and military leaders. The government officials counseled the emperor, worked as judges, and governed the city's four districts. Other nobles throughout the empire ruled the cities, collected tribute, or constructed public buildings and roads. The emperor had given the position of government officials to them for life, meaning getting the role of a noble was not by heredity. Even so, most noble's sons would gain high offices themselves. Priests conducted all of the religious rites and served individual gods. Some of the priests would run schools that trained boys for government jobs and the priesthood. Other priests would study the skies and made predictions about the futures. Generally, nobles because priests, but sometimes an Aztec from a lower class would rise this high. Girls were able to become priestesses. Commoners could also rise to become military leaders. Aztec men were trained to become soldiers, and to become a leader, the soldier would have to capture enemies in battle. Military leaders commanded the groups of soldiers and took part in the war council.
The large class of commoners included several smaller classes.
ranked from the highest and the farmers were ranked the lowest, while in the middle were artisans and craftspeople. The pochteca lived in a more separate section in Tenochtitlan and enjoyed many privileges. They had their own land and could send their children to the nobles' schools. This class had hereditary. Some artisans and craftspeople worked at their homes and traded goods in the market. Others worked in the royal palace and made items especially for the emperor. Most commoners worked as farmers,
fishers, laborers, and servants. Instead of owning the land, they were loaned plots of
land for homes and farms by their
, or ward. All commoners had to pay
tribute to the nobility in the form of crops, labor, or goods.
About 30% of the Aztec people were peasants. Unlike slaves, people in this
class were free but considered inferior to commoners. They hired out their
services to nobles instead of farming.
At the very bottom of the social pyramid were the slaves. Prisoners of
war, lawbreakers, or debtors may be forced into slavery. Unlike many
societies, Aztec slaves had their rights. They could own land and slaves
and did not pass their status on to their children. Many slaves in the end gained freedom.
The Aztecs of Tenochtitlan ate all sorts of food that ranged from their own foods to distant places. However, the mainstay of the Aztecs' diet was maize, or corn. Because it could be dried and then stored for a long time, the Aztecs found maize very useful. Women boiled and skinned corn kernels and ground them into flour to make tortillas for each meal. Another food item they made were tamales, made by wrapping maize in husks and steaming it.
Most families in the Aztecs had two meals a day, but sometimes they ate a small meal of thin porridge before going to bed. The first meal was just a simple meal in the late morning. It normally consisted of maize porridge called
. This porridge was often sweetened with some honey. Yum! In the afternoon, commoners would eat a main meal that had tortillas, maize cakes, boiled beans, or tamales. Sometimes they added pepper or tomato sauce to spice up these dishes.
Aztec commoners occasionally had some variety in their meals. Perhaps they would want some meat in their meal for special occasions, families would then raise some sort of animal such as turkeys and hairless dogs. Another option was to hunt pigeons and rabbits. Aztec farmers also grew a variety of crops that had red peppers, tomatoes, sage, squash, green beans, sweet potatoes, and avocados. However, if the crops were ever bad, the Aztecs would go to other sources of food, such as catching frogs, shrimp, or other water creatures. They also collected insect eggs. Another thing they did was skimming algae off of the surface of a lake and formed it into small cakes.
The wealthy had a different diet, both at the daily basis and feasts they attended to. They ate winged ants and a lizardlike creature called
. Upper classes enjoyed exotic imported foods like cocoa for their morning meals and pineapples, oysters, and crabs at banquets.