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The image to right demonstrates the use of phonetic signs for writing place names in the colonial Aztec Codex Mendoza.
The uppermost place is "Mapachtepec", meaning literally "On the Hill of the Raccoon ", but the glyph includes the phonetic signs "MA" hand and "PACH" moss over a mountain "TEPETL" spelling the word " mapach " "raccoon" phonetically instead of logographically.
Song and poetry were highly regarded; there were presentations and poetry contests at most of the Aztec festivals. There were also dramatic presentations that included players, musicians and acrobats.
There were several different genres of cuicatl song : Yaocuicatl was devoted to war and the god s of war, Teocuicatl to the gods and creation myths and to adoration of said figures, xochicuicatl to flowers a symbol of poetry itself and indicative of the highly metaphorical nature of a poetry that often utilized duality to convey multiple layers of meaning.
A key aspect of Aztec poetics was the use of parallelism, using a structure of embedded couplets to express different perspectives on the same element.
For example, the Nahuatl expression for "poetry" was in xochitl in cuicatl a dual term meaning "the flower, the song".
A remarkable amount of this poetry survives, having been collected during the era of the conquest. In some cases poetry is attributed to individual authors, such as Nezahualcoyotl , tlatoani of Texcoco, and Cuacuauhtzin , Lord of Tepechpan, but whether these attributions reflect actual authorship is a matter of opinion.
The Aztecs produced ceramics of different types. Common are orange wares, which are orange or buff burnished ceramics with no slip. Red wares are ceramics with a reddish slip.
Very common is "black on orange" ware which is orange ware decorated with painted designs in black. Aztec black on orange ceramics are chronologically classified into four phases: Aztec I and II corresponding to ca, — early Aztec period , Aztec III ca.
Aztec I is characterized by floral designs and day- name glyphs; Aztec II is characterized by a stylized grass design above calligraphic designs such as s-curves or loops; Aztec III is characterized by very simple line designs; Aztec four continues some pre-Columbian designs but adds European influenced floral designs.
There were local variations on each of these styles, and archeologists continue to refine the ceramic sequence. Typical vessels for everyday use were clay griddles for cooking comalli , bowls and plates for eating caxitl , pots for cooking comitl , molcajetes or mortar-type vessels with slashed bases for grinding chilli molcaxitl , and different kinds of braziers, tripod dishes and biconical goblets.
Vessels were fired in simple updraft kilns or even in open firing in pit kilns at low temperatures. Aztec painted art was produced on animal skin mostly deer , on cotton lienzos and on amate paper made from bark e.
The surface of the material was often first treated with gesso to make the images stand out more clearly. The art of painting and writing was known in Nahuatl by the metaphor in tlilli, in tlapalli - meaning "the black ink, the red pigment".
There are few extant Aztec painted books. Of these none are conclusively confirmed to have been created before the conquest, but several codices must have been painted either right before the conquest or very soon after - before traditions for producing them were much disturbed.
Even if some codices may have been produced after the conquest, there is good reason to think that they may have been copied from pre-Columbian originals by scribes.
The Codex Borbonicus is considered by some to be the only extant Aztec codex produced before the conquest - it is a calendric codex describing the day and month counts indicating the patron deities of the different time periods.
After the conquest, codices with calendric or religious information were sought out and systematically destroyed by the church - whereas other types of painted books, particularly historical narratives and tribute lists continued to be produced.
Sculptures were carved in stone and wood, but few wood carvings have survived. In Aztec artwork a number of monumental stone sculptures have been preserved, such sculptures usually functioned as adornments for religious architecture.
The Coyolxauhqui Stone representing the dismembered goddess Coyolxauhqui , found in , was at the foot of the staircase leading up to the Great Temple in Tenochtitlan.
The most well known examples of this type of sculpture are the Stone of Tizoc and the Stone of Motecuzoma I , both carved with images of warfare and conquest by specific Aztec rulers.
Many smaller stone sculptures depicting deities also exist. The style used in religious sculpture was rigid stances likely meant to create a powerful experience in the onlooker.
An especially prized art form among the Aztecs was featherwork - the creation of intricate and colorful mosaics of feathers, and their use in garments as well as decoration on weaponry, war banners, and warrior suits.
The class of highly skilled and honored craftsmen who created feather objects was called the amanteca ,  named after the Amantla neighborhood in Tenochtitlan where they lived and worked.
The Florentine Codex gives information about how feather works were created. The amanteca had two ways of creating their works.
One was to secure the feathers in place using agave cord for three-dimensional objects such as fly whisks, fans, bracelets, headgear and other objects.
The second and more difficult was a mosaic type technique, which the Spanish also called "feather painting.
Feather mosaics were arrangements of minute fragments of feathers from a wide variety of birds, generally worked on a paper base, made from cotton and paste, then itself backed with amate paper, but bases of other types of paper and directly on amate were done as well.
These works were done in layers with "common" feathers, dyed feathers and precious feathers. First a model was made with lower quality feathers and the precious feathers found only on the top layer.
The adhesive for the feathers in the Mesoamerican period was made from orchid bulbs. Feathers from local and faraway sources were used, especially in the Aztec Empire.
The feathers were obtained from wild birds as well as from domesticated turkeys and ducks, with the finest quetzal feathers coming from Chiapas, Guatemala and Honduras.
These feathers were obtained through trade and tribute. Due to the difficulty of conserving feathers, fewer than ten pieces of original Aztec featherwork exist today.
Mexico City was built on the ruins of Tenochtitlan, gradually replacing and covering the lake, the island and the architecture of Aztec Tenochtitlan.
This meant that aspects of Aztec culture and the Nahuatl language continued to expand during the early colonial period as Aztec auxiliary forces made permanent settlements in many of the areas that were put under the Spanish crown.
The Aztec ruling dynasty continued to govern the indigenous polity of San Juan Tenochtitlan, a division of the Spanish capital of Mexico City, but the subsequent indigenous rulers were mostly puppets installed by the Spanish.
Other former Aztec city states likewise were established as colonial indigenous towns, governed by a local indigenous gobernador. This office was often initially held by the hereditary indigenous ruling line, with the gobernador being the tlatoani , but the two positions in many Nahua towns became separated over time.
Indigenous governors were in charge of the colonial political organization of the Indians. In particular they enabled the continued functioning of the tribute and obligatory labor of commoner Indians to benefit the Spanish holders of encomiendas.
Encomiendas were private grants of labor and tribute from particular indigenous communities to particular Spaniards, replacing the Aztec overlords with Spanish.
In the early colonial period some indigenous governors became quite rich and influential and were able to maintain positions of power comparable to that of Spanish encomenderos.
After the arrival of the Europeans in Mexico and the conquest, indigenous populations declined significantly. This was largely the result of the epidemics of viruses brought to the continent against which the natives had no immunity.
In —, an outbreak of smallpox swept through the population of Tenochtitlan and was decisive in the fall of the city ; further significant epidemics struck in and There has been no general consensus about the population size of Mexico at the time of European arrival.
Early estimates gave very small population figures for the Valley of Mexico, in Kubler estimated a figure , Their very high figure has been highly criticized for relying on unwarranted assumptions.
Although the Aztec empire fell, some of its highest elites continued to hold elite status in the colonial era.
The principal heirs of Moctezuma II and their descendants retained high status. His son Pedro Moctezuma produced a son, who married into Spanish aristocracy and a further generation saw the creation of the title, Count of Moctezuma.
From to , the Viceroy of Mexico was held the title of count of Moctezuma. In , the holder of the title became a Grandee of Spain.
The different Nahua peoples, just as other Mesoamerican indigenous peoples in colonial New Spain, were able to maintain many aspects of their social and political structure under the colonial rule.
The Spanish recognized the indigenous elites as nobles in the Spanish colonial system, maintaining the status distinction of the pre-conquest era, and used these noblemen as intermediaries between the Spanish colonial government and their communities.
This was contingent on their conversion to Christianity and continuing loyalty to the Spanish crown. Colonial Nahua polities had considerable autonomy to regulate their local affairs.
The Spanish rulers did not entirely understand the indigenous political organization, but they recognized the importance of the existing system and their elite rulers.
They reshaped the political system utilizing altepetl or city-states as the basic unit of governance. In the colonial era, altepetl were renamed cabeceras or "head towns" although they often retained the term altepetl in local-level, Nahuatl-language documentation , with outlying settlements governed by the cabeceras named sujetos , subject communities.
In cabeceras , the Spanish created Iberian-style town councils, or cabildos , which usually continued to function as the elite ruling group had in the pre-conquest era.
Indigenous populations living in sparsely populated areas were resettled to form new communities, making it easier for them to brought within range of evangelization efforts, and easier for the colonial state to exploit their labor.
Today the legacy of the Aztecs lives on in Mexico in many forms. Archeological sites are excavated and opened to the public and their artifacts are prominently displayed in museums.
Place names and loanwords from the Aztec language Nahuatl permeate the Mexican landscape and vocabulary, and Aztec symbols and mythology have been promoted by the Mexican government and integrated into contemporary Mexican nationalism as emblems of the country.
During the 19th century, the image of the Aztecs as uncivilized barbarians was replaced with romanticized visions of the Aztecs as original sons of the soil, with a highly developed culture rivaling the ancient European civilizations.
When Mexico became independent from Spain, a romanticized version of the Aztecs became a source of images that could be used to ground the new nation as a unique blend of European and American.
Aztec culture and history has been central to the formation of a Mexican national identity after Mexican independence in In 17th and 18th century Europe, the Aztecs were generally described as barbaric, gruesome and culturally inferior.
Intellectuals utilized Aztec writings , such as those collected by Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl , and writings of Hernando Alvarado Tezozomoc , and Chimalpahin to understand Mexico's indigenous past in texts by indigenous writers.
This search became the basis for what historian D. Brading calls "creole patriotism. He wrote it expressly to defend Mexico's indigenous past against the slanders of contemporary writers, such as Pauw, Buffon, Raynal, and William Robertson.
Unearthed were the famous calendar stone, as well as a statue of Coatlicue. A decade later, German scientist Alexander von Humboldt spent a year in Mexico, during his four-year expedition to Spanish America.
One of his early publications from that period was Views of the Cordilleras and Monuments of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas.
In the realm of religion, late colonial paintings of the Virgin of Guadalupe have examples of her depicted floating above the iconic nopal cactus of the Aztecs.
Juan Diego , the Nahua to whom the apparition was said to appear, links the dark Virgin to Mexico's Aztec past.
When New Spain achieved independence in and became a monarchy, the First Mexican Empire , its flag had the traditional Aztec eagle on a nopal cactus.
The eagle had a crown, symbolizing the new Mexican monarchy. In the s, when the French established the Second Mexican Empire under Maximilian of Habsburg , the Mexican flag retained the emblematic eagle and cactus, with elaborate symbols of monarchy.
After the defeat of the French and their Mexican collaborators, the Mexican Republic was re-established, and the flag returned to its republican simplicity.
Tensions within post-independence Mexico pitted those rejecting the ancient civilizations of Mexico as source of national pride, the Hispanistas , mostly politically conservative Mexican elites, and those who saw them as a source of pride, the Indigenistas , who were mostly liberal Mexican elites.
Although the flag of the Mexican Republic had the symbol of the Aztecs as its central element, conservative elites were generally hostile to the current indigenous populations of Mexico or crediting them with a glorious prehispanic history.
With Santa Anna's overthrow in , Mexican liberals and scholars interested in the indigenous past became more active.
Liberals were more favorably inclined to the indigenous populations and their history, but considered a pressing matter being the "Indian Problem.
The late nineteenth century in Mexico was a period in which Aztec civilization became a point of national pride.
His policies opening Mexico to foreign investors and modernizing the country under a firm hand controlling unrest, "Order and Progress," undermined Mexico's indigenous populations and their communities.
In world's fairs of the late nineteenth century, Mexico's pavilions included a major focus on its indigenous past, especially the Aztecs.
Mexican scholars such as Alfredo Chavero helped shape the cultural image of Mexico at these exhibitions. The Mexican Revolution — and significant participation of indigenous people in the struggle in many regions, ignited a broad government-sponsored political and cultural movement of indigenismo , with symbols of Mexico's Aztec past becoming ubiquitous, most especially in Mexican muralism of Diego Rivera.
In their works, Mexican authors such as Octavio Paz and Agustin Fuentes have analyzed the use Aztec symbols by the modern Mexican state, critiquing the way it adopts and adapts indigenous culture to political ends, yet they have also in their works made use of the symbolic idiom themselves.
Paz for example critiqued the architectural layout of the National Museum of Anthropology , which constructs a view of Mexican history as culminating with the Aztecs, as an expression of a nationalist appropriation of Aztec culture.
Scholars in Europe and the United States increasingly wanted investigations into Mexico's ancient civilizations, starting in the nineteenth century.
Humboldt had been extremely important bringing ancient Mexico into broader scholarly discussions of ancient civilizations. It was Humboldt…who woke us from our sleep.
Although not directly connected with the Aztecs, it contributed to the increased interest in ancient Mexican studies in Europe.
English aristocrat Lord Kingsborough spent considerable energy in their pursuit of understanding of ancient Mexico.
Kingsborough answered Humboldt's call for the publication of all known Mexican codices, publishing nine volumes of Antiquities of Mexico — that were richly illustrated, bankrupting him.
He was not directly interested in the Aztecs, but rather in proving that Mexico had been colonized by Jews. In the United States in the early nineteenth century, interest in ancient Mexico propelled John Lloyd Stephens to travel to Mexico and then publish well-illustrated accounts in the early s.
But the research of a half-blind Bostonian, William Hickling Prescott , into the Spanish conquest of Mexico resulted in his highly popular and deeply researched The Conquest of Mexico His resulting work was a mixture of pro- and anti-Aztec attitudes.
In the assessment of Benjamin Keen , Prescott's history "has survived attacks from every quarter, and still dominates the conceptions of the laymen, if not the specialist, concerning Aztec civilization.
One entire work was devoted to ancient Mexico, half of which concerned the Aztecs. It was a work of synthesis drawing on Ixtlilxochitl and Brasseur de Bourbourg, among others.
When the International Congress of Americanists was formed in Nancy, France in , Mexican scholars became active participants, and Mexico City has hosted the biennial multidisciplinary meeting six times, starting in Mexico's ancient civilizations have continued to be the focus of major scholarly investigations by Mexican and international scholars.
The Nahuatl language is today spoken by 1. Mexican Spanish today incorporates hundreds of loans from Nahuatl, and many of these words have passed into general Spanish use, and further into other world languages.
In Mexico, Aztec place names are ubiquitous, particularly in central Mexico where the Aztec empire was centered, but also in other regions where many towns, cities and regions were established under their Nahuatl names, as Aztec auxiliary troops accompanied the Spanish colonizers on the early expeditions that mapped New Spain.
In this way even towns, that were not originally Nahuatl speaking came to be known by their Nahuatl names. Mexican cuisine continues to be based on staple elements of Mesoamerican cooking and, particularly, of Aztec cuisine : corn, chili, beans, squash, tomato, avocado.
Many of these staple products continue to be known by their Nahuatl names, carrying in this way ties to the Aztec people who introduced these foods to the Spaniards and to the world.
Through spread of ancient Mesoamerican food elements, particularly plants, Nahuatl loan words chocolate , tomato , chili , avocado , tamale , taco , pupusa , chipotle , pozole , atole have been borrowed through Spanish into other languages around the world.
Today Aztec images and Nahuatl words are often used to lend an air of authenticity or exoticism in the marketing of Mexican cuisine.
The idea of the Aztecs has captivated the imaginations of Europeans since the first encounters, and has provided many iconic symbols to Western popular culture.
The Aztecs and figures from Aztec mythology feature in Western culture. Lawrence gave the name Quetzalcoatl to an early draft of his novel The Plumed Serpent , but his publisher, Alfred A.
Knopf , insisted on a change of title. Aztec society has also been depicted in cinema. The Mexican feature film The Other Conquest Spanish: La Otra Conquista from was directed by Salvador Carrasco , and illustrated the colonial aftermath of the s Spanish Conquest of Mexico.
It adopted the perspective of an Aztec scribe, Topiltzin, who survived the attack on the temple of Tenochtitlan.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Redirected from Aztec. For other uses, see Aztec disambiguation.
Ethnic group of central Mexico and its civilization. Main article: History of the Aztecs. Main article: Aztec Empire. Main article: Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire.
Main articles: Class in Aztec society , Aztec society , and Aztec slavery. Main article: Women in Aztec civilization. See also: Aztec Empire: Government.
Main article: Mexico-Tenochtitlan. Main article: Aztec religion. Main article: List of Aztec gods and supernatural beings. Main article: Aztec mythology.
Main article: Aztec calendar. Main articles: Human sacrifice in Aztec culture and Cannibalism in pre-Columbian America. Main article: Aztec writing.
An Aztec bowl for everyday use. Black on orange ware, a simple Aztec IV style flower design. Main article: Mexican featherwork.
Further information: Society in the Spanish Colonial Americas. Main article: Population history of indigenous peoples of the Americas.
See also: Society in the Spanish Colonial Americas. Coat of Arms of Mexico , also present in flag. See also: Aztec cuisine and List of Mexican dishes.
Mesoamerica portal Indigenous peoples of the Americas portal Civilizations portal. History of Mexico Indigenismo in Mexico Indigenous peoples of Mexico List of Mexico-Tenochtitlan rulers Maya civilization Mesoamerica Mesoamerican chronology Mixtec people Nahuas Nahuatl.
I believe it makes more sense to expand the definition of "Aztec" to include the peoples of nearby highland valleys in addition to the inhabitants of the Valley of Mexico.
Readers will find some variation in the terms authors employ in this handbook, but, in general, different authors use Aztecs to refer to people incorporated into the empire of the Triple Alliance in the Late Postclassic period.
An empire of such broad geographic extent [ Scholars often use more specific identifiers, such as Mexica or Tenochca, when appropriate, and they generally employ the term Nahuas to refer to indigenous people in central Mexico [ All of these terms introduce their own problems, whether because they are vague, subsume too much variation, are imposed labels, or are problematic for some other reason.
We have not found a solution that all can agree on and thus accept the varied viewpoints of authors. We use the term Aztec because today it is widely recognized by both scholars and the international public.
In English the variant "Montezuma" was originally the most common, but has now largely been replaced with "motecuhzoma" and "moteuczoma", in Spanish the term "moctezuma" which inverts the order of t and k has been predominant and is a common surname in Mexico, but is now also largely replaced with a form that respects the original Nahuatl structure, such as "motecuzoma".
Indeed no conquests are recorded for Motecuzoma in the last years of his reign, suggesting that he may have been incapable of ruling, or even dead Diel Archived from the original on 17 October Retrieved 30 August Online Etymology Dictionary.
Archived from the original on 7 July The New York Times. Archived from the original on 13 January Retrieved 5 January Macmillan Publishers.
Archived from the original on 22 September Retrieved 12 April Archived from the original on 12 April Part One: Historical Films".
Native American Films. Archived from the original on 15 October Altman, Ida ; Cline, Sarah; Pescador, Javier The Early History of Greater Mexico.
Prentice Hall. In Deborah L. The Oxford Handbook of the Aztecs. Barlow, Robert H. The Americas. Extent Of The Empire Of Culhua Mexica.
University of California Press. Beekman, C. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. Berdan, Frances The Aztecs of Central Mexico: An Imperial Society.
Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology. Berdan, Frances F. In Frances Berdan; Richard Blanton; Elizabeth Hill Boone; Mary G. Hodge; Michael E. Smith; Emily Umberger eds.
Aztec Imperial Strategies. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. Imperial Strategies and Core-Periphery Relations".
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