The Aztec Era Of The Mesoamerican Culture Essay

The Aztec Era Of The Mesoamerican Culture Essay

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Human sacrifice is one of the oldest practices of the Mesoamerican culture. The Aztecs, the last empire of the Mesoamericans, performed human sacrifices in their festivals as a means to show political power and to maintain the order of the universe. The Mexica Empire also considered war and sacrifice to be essential in the gaining of their vast territories. It is believed that hundreds, or even thousands, of victims were sacrificed each year at the Aztec religious sites. However, in addition to the religious ritual, sacrifices had the effect of intimidation for outside visitors/ enemies and the population in general.
The Aztecs believed in the concept of giving in order to receive, so they offered gifts to the earth in exchange for daily food. They also paid the gods back for the sacrifices they had made at the beginning of the “Fifth Sun”, which they believed was the creation of human life. Therefore, although the Aztec civilization gained an infamous reputation for their barbaric acts, which included decapitation, skinning, dismemberment, and ripping out beating hearts, human sacrifice was only a part of the act. It was a strict, ritualized process that gave the highest honor to the gods and was considered a necessity for continued life and prosperity.
Aztec myth represents the notion that life and death are continuous and complementary, and that human sacrifice allows human beings to transform into Gods themselves. Human and self-sacrifice was performed in almost every festival, and human hearts and blood were offered to their gods. Human blood was the currency they used to exchange with their ancient gods, offered as a tribute which they called ‘tequitl’; the blood, called ‘chalchiuatl’, came from sacrificed victims wh...

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...s were a form of communication with the divine world, and since death brings new life in their religion, human sacrifice was a way to give vital energy to the gods and transform into the gods themselves. In the Aztec religion, the dead might go to one of four worlds. Mictlan is the underworld, for those who die of old age or from normal causes. Tlalocan is the eternal spring paradise, for those who die in water related accidents, have been struck by lightning, or of certain kinds of illnesses. Chichihualcuauhco was for the dead children. Finally, Tonatiuh Ilhuicac is the place of the sun; it is where all of those who die in war or are sacrificed were believed to go on living or were transformed into other beings. The Aztec viewed time as cyclical, ensuring that death was not an end but part of rebirth (Markman and Markman 1992: 85 - pg 29 your article).

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