Aztec Art and Culture

Aztec Art and Culture

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Aztec Art and Culture

The Aztec nation is one of the largest and most advanced Indian nations to ever exist on earth. Just about every part of the Aztec life was advance to such a state that at that time of the world the people were living better than many European nations. The Aztec nation is unique in its history, economy, environment, and way of life then any other nation at that time.

The Aztec Indians, who are known for their domination of southern and central Mexico, ruled between the 14th and 16th centuries. They built a great empire and developed very modernized ways of doing things.

The Aztecs had phenomenal architectural skills and waterway systems. The Indians also had very developed social class and government systems and practiced a form of religion.
To begin with, the Aztecs were very skilled in the art of Architecture and waterway systems. “An example of the monumental architecture within the Aztec society is the great pyramid of Tenochtitlan. Montezuma I, who was the ruler of the Aztecs in 1466, created it. The pyramid was not finished until the rule of Montezuma II, around 1508.

Aztec cities and towns also had working drinking water and waste treatment systems. An intricate plumbing system using clay pipes ran down from the mountains around Mexico valley to all of the towns and cities in the valley. As the water ran into each town or city it was dispersed to 10 or 12 places around town were it flowed into a pool for drinking water or was pumped into public baths and toilets. Only nobles had working drinking and bathing systems with running water in their homes. The sewage system worked much like today, having human wastes carried to a collection pool where solids were collected, and then having liquids run off into a series of terraces which filtered the water. Solid wastes were allowed to sit in a collection pool for about six months and then were brought to the lake gardens to be used as fertilizer”(Jennings, Aztec, Pg. 220). At the bottom of the heap were slaves and serfs, or the Tlacotli, who worked the private lands of the nobility.

Next came the Macehualtin, ‘the fortunate,’ as they were called because they were equally free of the heavy responsibility of the nobility and of the slave’s liability to being basely used. They were the merchants, shopkeepers and artisans that made up the bulk of the population.

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The Macehualtin belonged to localized kin groups known as calpulli or ‘big houses,’ each of which had it’s own lands, clan leaders, and temple”(Jennings, Aztec, Pg. 354).

The high status is obvious by the in-clusion of more elaborate and ornamental objects and frequently frescos adorned the walls. Monumental Architecture of public and private buildings is one of the best indi-cators of the size and importance of a site. The size of the structure has direct corrolation to the power held by the leader, in his ability to conduct peasants to construct the building.

Temples and plazas were the main objects of monumental construction and often rival the pyramids of Egypt in quality and size. Temples were often pyramid like struc-tures that were built, facing east, over the cremated remains of a priest or ruler. With each acceding ruler the temple was made larger by building over the previous, thus the layering effect so often uncovered. Different styles of decoration and construction were used by each culture during different periods. In contrast to earlier Mesoamerican pyramids with a single temple built on top and a single stairway up the side, the pyramids built by the Early Aztec peoples had twin temples and double stairways (Smith, 43). There are several complexes of Esperanza architecture at Kaminaljuyu…these are stepped temple platforms with the typical Teotihuacan talud-tablero motif. (Coe, 84).
Then in less than three hundred years there was a completely different style of architecture in the area. Characteristics of Public buildings are facings of very thin squares of limestone veneer over the cement and rubble core. boot-shaped vault stones.
The exuberant use of stone mosaics on upper facades, emphasizing the usual monster-masks with long, hook-shaped snouts, as well as frets and lattice-like designs of crisscrossed elements. (Coe, 157).

Their religious buildings were like the great pyramids of Egypt. Instead their cut off at the top broad stairways often with banisters shaped like giant serpents led to the summit, on the summit stood the shrine. The great square featured a skull rack, a row of pointed stakes on which were impaled the heads of the thousands of persons sacrificed there. Within the square stood the priests houses and the ball court. A game resembling basketball was played there. The large rubber ball could be hit only with the knee or hip. The object was to drive it through a ring set vertically in each side of the wall.
Causeways and bridges were built to connect the city to the mainland, aqueducts were constructed, and canals were dug through out the city for easy transportation of goods and people.

Hieroglyphs were to represent history, geography and tribute. Most of the hieroglyphs represent names of towns and persons used pictographic writing that was recorded on paper or animal hides these writings were called codices still exist today.
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