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Meso bogov: 10 dejstev o človeški žrtvi Aztekov

Meso bogov: 10 dejstev o človeški žrtvi Aztekov


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Čeprav obstaja univerzalno soglasje, da so nekatere mezoameriške družbe izvajale človeške žrtve in kanibalizem, se zgodovinarji ne strinjajo glede njegovega obsega.

V Azteškem cesarstvu, ki je cvetelo v 14. stoletju do propada leta 1519, je splošno sprejeto, da je bilo človeško žrtvovanje del azteške kulture - celo sestavni del asteške vere.

Tukaj je 10 dejstev o ritualnih človeških žrtvah v Azteškem cesarstvu.

1. Prvič so ga zabeležili španski kolonisti

Azteško ritualno človeško žrtvovanje, prikazano v Codex Magliabechiano (Zasluge: Javna last).

Dokumentacija o žrtvah Aztekov in kanibalizmu večinoma izvira iz obdobja po španski osvojitvi.

Ko so Španci konkvistador Hernán Cortés je leta 1521 prispel v prestolnico Aztekov Tenochtitlan, opisal pa je, kako je videl daritveni obred, na katerem so duhovniki razrezali skrinje žrtvovanih žrtev.

Mezoameriški etnograf Bernardino de Sahagun je v svoji študiji iz 16. stoletja vključil ponazoritev Aztekov, ki so jih kuhali, Historia general.

Mnogi učenjaki so opozarjali na takšne trditve in zavrnili poročila iz 16. stoletja kot propagando, s katero so opravičevali uničenje Tenochtitlana in zasužnjevanje Azteškega ljudstva.

2. Podprto je z arheološkimi dokazi

V letih 2015 in 2018 so arheologi na izkopavanju Templo Mayor v Mexico Cityju odkrili dokaz o razširjenosti človeških žrtev med Azteki.

Raziskovalci, ki so preučevali človeške kosti v Tenochtitlanu, so ugotovili, da so bili posamezniki obglavljeni in razkosani.

Analiza je pokazala, da so bile žrtve razklane in porabljene ter da so jim meso odstranili takoj po sežiganju.

Ugotovljeno je bilo tudi, da ilustracije v tempeljskih freskah in kamnite rezbarije prikazujejo prizore ritualnega človeškega žrtvovanja.

3. Imel je duhovni in verski pomen

Po azteški mitologiji je bog sonca Huitzilopochtli zahteval stalno prehrano v obliki človeške krvi, da bi preprečil naraščanje teme in konec sveta.

Kačji bog plodnosti Quetzalcoatl in bog jaguarja Tezcatlipoca sta zahtevala tudi človeško žrtvovanje.

Po azteški mitologiji je bog sonca Huitzilopochtli zahteval stalno prehrano v obliki človeške krvi (Zasluge: Knjižnica John Carter Brown / CC).

Azteška ideologija je narekovala, da je posameznikov uspeh v posmrtnem življenju odvisen od tega, ali so bili žrtvovani bogovom ali ubiti v bitki. Nasprotno pa je oseba, ki je umrla zaradi bolezni, odšla na najnižjo stopnjo podzemlja, Mictlan.

Zgodovinar Ortiz de Montellano je trdil, da so žrtvene žrtve svete:

uživanje njihovega mesa je bilo dejanje prehranjevanja samega boga

In da je bil ritual:

gesta zahvale in vzajemnosti bogovom.

Dan, posnet v živo v sodelovanju z Britansko akademijo, se je z dr. Suzannah Lipscomb pogovarjal o zgodovini čarovništva ...

Poslušajte zdaj

4. Mnoge žrtve so bile prostovoljno žrtvovane

Čeprav si je težko predstavljati, bi se Azteki prostovoljno žrtvovali in menili, da je to vrhunec plemenitosti in časti.

Kot žrtve so bili favorizirani tudi vojni ujetniki - vse večji asteški imperij v 15. in 16. stoletju je človeško žrtvovanje videl kot dejanje ustrahovanja.

Ilustracija Azteškega človeškega žrtvovanja iz kodeksa iz 16. stoletja (Zasluge: Javna last).

Leta 1520 skupina španskih konkvistadorji, ženske, otroke in konje so ujeli lokalni ljudje, znani kot Acolhauas, v bližini velikega asteškega mesta Tetzcoco.

Zapornike so zadrževali v ad hoc celicah in jih v naslednjih tednih ubijali in kanibalizirali v ritualnih obredih.

DNK testi žrtev s spletnega mesta Templo Mayor so pokazali, da je večina tujcev, najverjetneje ujetih sovražnih vojakov ali sužnjev.

5. Rezervirano je bilo za posebne priložnosti

Zgodovinarji na splošno menijo, da kanibalizem niso prakticirali prebivalci in da ni bil del običajne azteške prehrane.

Namesto tega sta ritualni kanibalizem in človeško žrtvovanje potekala kot del posebnih obredov.

Žrtev žrtvenega gladiatorskega boja, kot je prikazano v Codex Magliabechiano (Zasluge: FAMSI).

Med prazniki azteškega koledarja bi se žrtvene žrtve krasile, da bi bile videti kot bog.

Potem ko so jim odrezali glavo, so telesa žrtev podarili plemičem in pomembnim članom skupnosti.

Ilustracije iz 16. stoletja prikazujejo dele telesa, ki se kuhajo v velikih loncih. Kri bi hranili duhovniki, ki so jih mešali s koruzo, da bi ustvarili testo, ki bi bilo oblikovano kot božji lik, spekli in nato dali kot hrano slavljencem na prazniku.

6. To je bilo zahvalo

Velike in majhne lestvice človeških žrtev so bile narejene skozi vse leto, da sovpadajo s pomembnimi koledarskimi datumi, ki jih je treba uporabiti za posvetitev templjev, odpravo suše in boj proti lakoti.

Največ kanibalizma je sovpadalo s časom žetve. V azteški mitologiji so boginjo plodnosti Tonacacihuatl - kar pomeni "Gospa naše hrane" ali "Gospa iz našega mesa" - častili, ker je zemljo popestrila in naredila rodovitno.

Azteki so luščenje koruze dojemali kot isto dejanje kot iztrganje srca žrtvene žrtve - oba z uporabo rezila obsidijana, ki je bil simbol Tonacacihuatla.

7. Srce bi najprej izrezali

Cuauhxicalli v obliki jaguarja, ki je držal srca žrtev žrtev (Zasluge: Luidger / CC).

Izbrana metoda človeškega žrtvovanja je bila odstranitev srca s strani asteškega duhovnika z ostrim obsidianovim rezilom na vrhu piramide ali templja.

Žrtev bi nato brcali ali vrgli navzdol, tako da bi se njena kri prelila po stopnicah piramide.

Ko bi telo prišlo do dna stopnic, bi ga odsekali, razkosali in razdelili.

Žrtve so bile včasih tudi ustreljene s puščicami, kamenjane, zdrobljene, krempljaste, narezane, oguljene ali žive zakopane.

8. Med žrtvami so bile ženske in otroci

Za različne bogove so bile potrebne različne žrtvene žrtve. Medtem ko so bili bojevniki žrtvovani bogovom vojne, so ženske in otroke uporabljali tudi za druge oblike čaščenja.

Otroci so bili posebej izbrani za deževna božanstva in veljalo je, da so še posebej všeč bogovom vode in dežja, na primer Tlalocu.

Med praznovanji, ki se nanašajo na prvi mesec koledarja Mexica, atlacahualo, bi bilo nekaj otrok žrtvovanih v čast bogovom. Potem bi jih duhovniki kanibalizirali.

V Tenochtitlanu so na mestu, ki obdaja piramido Tlaloc, našli ostanke več kot 40 otrok.

Menijo tudi, da bi otroke žrtve pred žrtvovanjem mučili, saj je bog dežja še posebej naklonil solze nedolžnih otrok.

9. Ostanki bi bili vidno razstavljeni

Španci konkvistador Andrés de Tapia je opisal, da je videl dva zaobljena stolpa ob županu templja, ki sta v celoti sestavljena iz človeških lobanj. Med njimi pa visok leseni nosilec, ki prikazuje na tisoče lobanj z izvrtinčenimi luknjami na vsaki strani, da lahko lobanje zdrsnejo na lesene palice.

Arheološka študija mesta iz leta 2015 je vključevala stojalo za žrtvene človeške lobanje, znano kot tzompantli.

Po mnenju arheologa Eduarda Matosa so bili ti prikazi "pokazatelj moči" in da bodo prijatelji in sovražniki povabljeni v Azteško mesto, da si ogledajo stojala za lobanje

10. Morda so ga uporabljali za boj proti pomanjkanju beljakovin

Nekateri zgodovinarji menijo, da so Azteki uživali človeško meso, ker v njihovem prehranskem okolju ni bilo dovolj beljakovin.

Zgodovinar Michael Harner je trdil, da je povečanje števila Aztekov, zmanjšanje količine divjadi in odsotnost udomačenih živali prisililo Azteke k hrepenenju po mesu.

Vse razpoložljive ribe in vodne kokoši bi bile razkošje, rezervirano za bogate, revni pa bi imeli dostop le do žuželk in glodalcev.


ŽRTVOVANJE

Molitev je oblika komunikacije z božanstvom ali drugim duhovnim bitjem. Besede, naslovljene na božanstvo, običajno ponujajo pohvalo ali iščejo vodstvo, blagoslov, odpuščanje, plodnost, zmago ali zaščito. Tako kot molitev je žrtvovanje oblika komunikacije z božanstvom za podobne namene. Beseda sama po sebi pomeni " posvetiti. " Za razliko od molitve, žrtvovanja vključujejo predmete dragocenosti in simbolnega pomena, ki so dani bogovom, da si prislužijo njihovo naklonjenost. Darila imajo lahko različne oblike in sama postanejo sveta z obrednim posvečenjem. Bogovom bi lahko ponudili najbolj zaželeno hrano ali jim dali najboljše posode, rezbarije, orodje in orožje. Zgodovinarji pa so pogosto šteli krvno žrtvovanje za najmočnejši način pomirjanja bogov. Nič nenavadnega ni bilo, da so se družbe vključevale v žrtvovanje živali in ljudi, čeprav se je zgodovinski trend močno zmanjšal.

Udeleženci ritualov žrtvovanja krvi doživijo občutek strahospoštovanja, nevarnosti ali povzdigovanja, ker si drznejo približati bogovom, ki ustvarjajo, vzdržujejo in uničujejo življenje. Nakopičenje napetosti pred krvno daritvijo daje mesto prazničnemu občutku zmagoslavja in olajšanja. Moralnost se okrepi z ritualnim pobojem, ker je skupina sama izvedla božansko dejanje uničenja in je zdaj sposobna obnoviti svoj obstoj. Temeljna filozofska predpostavka je, da mora življenje iti skozi smrt.

Po starih obredih žrtvovanja bi morala biti žrtvena žival ali človek velike vrednosti. Bogovi bi bili užaljeni zaradi bolniške ali manjvredne daritve. V stari zavezi je Abel ubogal tisto, kar je bilo že starodavno izročilo, ko je prvorojenca svojih čred žrtvoval Bogu. Biki so bili Egipčani pred več kot 5000 leti sveti, saj so bili povezani s Taurusom, bogom z živalskimi in človeškimi lastnostmi. Za Egipčane je bilo torej žrtvovanje bika darilo polboga bogovom. V letih neposredno pred nastankom krščanstva so nekateri skrivnostni kulti prešli z bika na človeško žrtvovanje, pri čemer so uporabljali iste slovesnosti, v katerih so žrtvo najprej počastili kot boga, nato pa jo usmrtili. Oziris, legendarni egipčanski vladar, ki je umorjen postal bog plodnosti, je dal dolgo senco na te postopke. Svetopisci so pogosto komentirali, da so Jezusovo smrt vnaprej določili drugi dogodki, v katerih je bila oseba povzdignjena v status boga in nato žrtvovana v dobro ljudi. Pomen krvi kot povezave med Jezusom in njegovimi privrženci je v skladu s to tradicijo.


Vsebina

Stare Maje so za žrtvovanje ljudi uporabljale različne metode, na primer:

Uredi urejanje glave

Pomembni rituali, na primer predanost večjim gradbenim projektom ali ustoličenje novega vladarja, so zahtevali človeško žrtev. Žrtvovanje sovražnega kralja je bila najbolj cenjena daritev in takšno žrtvovanje je vključevalo obglavitev ujetega vladarja v obredni izvedbi obglavitve boga koruze Majev s strani bogov smrti Maya. [1] Leta 738 AD je vazalni kralj Kʼakʼ Tiliw Chan Yopaat iz Quiriguá ujel svojega nadrejenega Uaxaclajuuna Ubʼaah Kʼawiila iz Copana, nekaj dni kasneje pa ga je obredno obglavil [2]. dogodek "glif. Obglavitev sovražnega kralja je bila morda izvedena kot del ritualne igre z žogo, ki je upodobila zmago dvojčkov junakov Maya nad bogovi podzemlja. [1]

Žrtvovanje z odrubljevanjem glave je upodobljeno v klasični majevski umetnosti, včasih pa tudi po mučenju žrtve, ki je bila različno pretepena, skalpana, opečena ali razčlenjena. [3] Žrtvovanje z odrubljevanjem glave je upodobljeno na reliefih v Chichen Itzi v dveh krožniščih (Veliki dvorana in dvorana Monjas). [4] Mit o dvojčkih junakih, opisan v Popol Vuh, pripoveduje, kako so nasprotniki v igri z žogo odglavili enega od vsakega para dvojčkov (sami junaki in njun oče in stric). [5]

Odsekanje glave se je pojavilo z uporabo različnih manir v slikovnih kodeksih. Nekatere upodobitve so upodobljene kot glave s tekočo krvjo, ki jih držijo lasje, glave obešene na glavo ali z vrvicami, ki gredo skozi lica ali nosnice, glave na palicah ali nosijo kot okras, telesa brez glave in kače oz. kri teče navzgor, dekapitacija v teku ali končana ali pokopi lobanje, kjer je čeljust zglobljena in ostane nekaj vretenc. Na pomen glav kot simbola so morda vplivali že v obdobju oblikovalskega Olmeka in so ga uporabljali kot način predstavljanja in časti bogov ali vladarjev. Na hieroglifih, najdenih v Monte Albanu, so prikazani dokazi s upodobitvami odsekanih glav, ki visijo navzgor pod glifom. Menijo, da ti zabeležijo ali označujejo osvajanje vasi s strani vladarjev Monte Albanov [6] ali pa v astrološkem kontekstu glif kraja lahko razlagamo kot Zemljo, glavo obrnjeno navzdol pa kot planete ali ozvezdja, ki gredo mimo pri svojih rotacijah. . [7] V klasičnem obdobju so bile glave najdene tudi med dvema skledama, kar dokazuje kontinuiteto in nadaljnji razvoj praks ter pomeni prizadevanje čaščenja z uporabo skled. Glave so uporabljali tudi za okras. V Yaxchilanu obstajajo dokazi o ogrlicah s slušalkami (skrčene glave), ki visijo na glavo na pomembni figuri. Ta način prikaza je bil najverjetneje uporaben za vojne posnetke ali kot trofeje za grožnjo sovražnikom. [8] V pozno klasični dobi vidimo tudi glave, ki se uporabljajo na pokrivalih in pasovih, upodobljenih na freskah v Bonampak in Yaxchilanu. Odsekane glave naj bi bile povezane tudi z rituali, ki vključujejo kmetijstvo, rojstvo, plodnost in smrt. To je razvidno iz Florentinskega kodeksa z rituali Tlacaxipehualiztli, kjer je bila žrtvovana Xilonen, boginja nežne koruze. Odbila ji je glavo, srce pa ji je iztrgalo iz prsnega koša in nato ponudilo soncu. [ potreben citat ] Codex Borgia prikazuje največje število obglavitev, pri 33 štetjih. [9]

Odstranitev srca Uredi

Izvlečke srca in žrtvovanje so obravnavali kot »vrhunski verski izraz med starodavnimi Maji«. [10] Odstranitev še vedno utripajočega srca ali včasih samožiganje, [ razjasniti ] je veljal za veliko daritev in obrok za bogove. Kot vsak sodoben verski obred velja, da je bilo pridobivanje več korakov za pripravo in ustrezno spoštovanje bogov. [ potreben citat ] Začelo se je z razprševanjem odvzete krvi [ razjasniti ] iz ust, nosu, ušes, prstov ali penisa, običajno z ostrim orodjem iz živalske kosti, kot je hrbtenica špirovca. [11] Nato so žrtev postavili na kamniti ali leseni oltar. Nato bi dostop do srca dosegli z različnimi postopki in tehnikami. Večina teh tehnik je bila dokazana s pregledom posmrtnih poškodb na kosteh, ki obdajajo srce, kot so prsnica in rebra. Metode vključujejo navpično aksialno sternotomijo, levo prečno torakotomijo, prečno dvostransko sternotorakotamijo ali transdiafragmalni dostop. Najverjetneje bi bil dostop dostopen pod diafragmo, saj je to omogočalo enostaven dostop in ne veliko zamašitev kosti. To so branili zarezi, segmentiranje in zlom prsnice in reber. Po dostopu je bilo srce izpostavljeno iskanju. Če bi dostopali skozi prsnico, bi rebra raztrgali ali pa bi prerezali tkivo, če bi dostopali skozi prepono. Dejansko odstranitev srca bi nato nadaljevali z rezanjem vseh pritrdilnih vezi z bifacialnim orodjem. Nazadnje bi se daritev srca zgodila s posebnim nameščanjem ali z gorenjem. Takrat bi od žrtev odvzeli tudi kri. Ritual se bo končal s pohabljanjem telesa, običajno z razkosavanjem ali sežiganjem. Nato bi odstranili telo ali ga ponovno uporabili za druge namene. [12]

V postklasičnem obdobju (ok. 900 - 1524) je bila najpogostejša oblika človeškega žrtvovanja ekstrakcija srca, na katero je vplivala metoda, ki so jo Azteki uporabljali v Mehiški dolini [1], to je običajno potekalo na dvorišču templja, ali na vrhu piramidnega templja. [13] Žrtvovanje je bilo slečeno in pobarvano v modro, kar je bila barva, ki je predstavljala žrtvovanje, in je bilo narejeno z vrhunskim pokrivalom. [14]

Štirje modro poslikani spremljevalci, ki predstavljajo štiri Chaacke iz kardinalnih smeri, so žrtvovanje raztegnili nad izbočen kamen, ki je žrtev potisnil v prsi navzgor [14] Uradnik, imenovan nacom v Landi Relación de las cosas de Yucatán z žrtvenim nožem iz kremena zarezal v rebra tik pod levo dojko žrtve in izvlekel še vedno utripajoče srce. [15] nacom nato predalo srce uradnemu duhovniku, oz čilan, ki je s podobo tempeljskega božanstva zamazal kri.

Odvisno od natančnega rituala so včasih štirje Chaacci metali truplo po stopnicah piramide na dvorišče spodaj, kjer bi mu pomagali duhovniki, razen za roke in noge. The čilan bi nato odstranil svojo obredno obleko in se oblekel v kožo žrtvene žrtve, preden bi izvedel obredni ples, ki je simboliziral ponovno rojstvo življenja. Če bi bil žrtvovan predvsem pogumen bojevnik, bi truplo razrezali na dele in dele, ki bi jih pojedli bojevniki in drugi navzoči. Roke in noge so dobili čilan ki so kosti, če bi pripadale vojnim ujetnikom, nosile kot trofejo. [13] Arheološke raziskave kažejo, da se je žrtvovanje srca izvajalo že v klasičnem obdobju. [16]

Puščica žrtvovanje Uredi

Nekateri rituali so vključevali žrtvovanje z lokom in puščicami. Žrtveno žrtev so slekli in pobarvali v modro ter nosili vrhunsko kapo, podobno kot pri pripravi na žrtvovanje srca. Žrtev je bila med obrednim plesom privezana na kol, iz genitalij so vzeli kri in jo razmazali na podobo predsedujočega božanstva. Na srce žrtve je bil naslikan bel simbol, ki je strelcem služil kot tarča. Plesalci so nato šli pred žrtveno žrtev in po vrsti puščali puščice v tarčo, dokler se celotna skrinja ni napolnila s puščicami.

Žrtvovanje z lokom in puščico je bilo zapisano že v klasičnem obdobju (ok. 250 - 900) in je bilo upodobljeno z grafiti na stenah Tikalskega templja II. [13] Pesmi Dzitbalcheja so zbirka pesmi Yucatec Maya, zapisanih sredi 18. stoletja, dve pesmi obravnavata žrtvovanje puščic in naj bi bile kopije pesmi iz 15. stoletja, v postklasičnem obdobju. [17] Prva, imenovana Mala puščica, je pesem, ki poziva k žrtvovanju, da bi bili pogumni in se potolažili. [18] Drugi je upravičen Archerjev ples in je ritual, posvečen vzhajajočemu soncu, vključuje navodila lokostrelcu, ki ga izvede, kako naj pripravi svoje puščice in trikrat zapleše okoli žrtvovanja. Lokostrelcu je naročeno, naj ne strelja do drugega kroga in naj pazi, da žrtvovanje počasi umre. Na tretjem krogu, medtem ko še vedno pleše, se lokostrelcu naroči, da strelja dvakrat. [19] Podoben prizor je opisan v Analih Kaqchikelov, kjer je pomemben zapornik vezan na oder, bojevniki Kaqchikela pa začnejo z obrednim "krvnim plesom" in ga streljajo polni puščic. [20] V pozni postklasični jezikovni drami Kʼicheʼ Rabinal Achi, pomemben vojni ujetnik je vezan na kol, ki predstavlja mitološko koruzno drevo, in je žrtvovan s streljanjem s puščicami, besedilo primerja lokostrelce z lovci in žrtvovanje z divjadjo. [21]

Bloodletting Edit

Kri je imela v kulturi Majev zelo pomemben namen. Veljalo je, da vsebuje "življenjsko silo" ali chu 'lel, ki jo zahtevajo nadnaravne sile. [22] Bogovi ali božanstva so kri ponudili s samodejnim žrtvovanjem krvi. Praktikanti bi se rezali ali prebadali z različnimi orodji, kot so kostna šila in igle, obsidianova rezila ali trn maguey. Krv bi pridobivali iz področij, kot so ušesa, lica, ustnice, nosnice, jezik, roke, noge in penis. [23] Odvzem krvi s področij, kot je penis, je bil simbol reprodukcije in plodnosti. Ko je krvavela, bi kri ujeli na predmet, kot so lubje papirja, bombaž, živalsko perje, nato pa ga sežgali, da bi ga dostavili bogovom. [24]

Žrtvovanje živali Edit

Pogosto so žrtvovali tudi živali. Pogosto so se uporabljale živali, kot so prepelice, purani, jeleni in psi. Prepelice so Zapotecem veljale za "čiste in čiste", ker so pile vodo iz kapljic rose in ne iz virov "umazane vode". Uporabljene vrste so prepelica Montezuma (Cyrtonyx montezumae) in bob-bela prepelica (Colinus virginianus). [25] Obstajajo tudi dokazi o žrtvovanju jaguarja v Copánu in Teotihuacanu. Njihovi ostanki so raziskovalce prepričali, da so jih uporabljali za pogrebne obrede velikih voditeljev ali druge priložnosti. Videli so jih kot "alter ego" svojih močnih kraljev šamanov. [26]

Druge metode Urejanje

Pozno klasični grafiti iz zgradbe, pokopane pod skupino G v Tikalu, prikazujejo žrtvovanje, vezano na kol z rokami, vezanimi za glavo, žrtvi so odstranili črevesje. [27] V klasičnem obdobju Palenque je bila dvajseta ženska pokopana živa, da bi spremljala pokojnega plemiča kot pogrebno daritev. [28]

V svetem cenotu v Chichen Itzi so ljudi v suho, lakoto ali bolezni metali v cenote. Sacred Cenote je naravno pojavljena vrtača, ki je erodirana iz lokalnega apnenca, široka je približno 50 metrov (160 čevljev) in se spusti 20 metrov (66 čevljev) na vodno površino, voda pa je še 20 metrov (66 čevljev) globoka. Strani cenote so čiste. Človeško žrtvovanje se je izvajalo vse do španske osvojitve Yucatána, precej po propadu mesta. [27]

Včasih so bile žrtve tesno povezane v kroglo in so bile odbite v ritualni ponovitvi igre z žogo. [28]

Nekatere druge prakse, povezane z žrtvovanjem, vključujejo živo žganje žrtev, ples v koži odrte kože, odvzem trofej z glave, kanibalizem, pitje vode za kopanje pokojnega sorodnika in škropljenje žrtvene krvi po svetiščih. [29]

Klasično obdobje (250–900) Uredi

Človeško žrtvovanje je upodobljeno v poznoklasični umetnini, včasih pa je bilo žrtvovanje mučenja na splošno prek obglavitve. Včasih je bila žrtvena žrtev oblečena kot jelen. Načrtovana žrtev je bila morda javno prikazana in paradirana pred samim žrtvovanjem. Podobe človeškega žrtvovanja so bile pogosto vklesane v stopnice arhitekture Majev in takšna stopnišča so bila morda mesto občasnih žrtvovanj. [3] Obredna odrubitev glasov je dobro izkazana iz hieroglifskih besedil Majev v celotnem obdobju klasike. [30] Dokazi o množičnih žrtvovanjih v času klasike niso bili arheološko pridobljeni. [31] Arheološka izkopavanja na številnih najdiščih, vključno s Palenquejem, Calakmulom in Becanom, so odkrila okostja, ki nosijo oznake na vretencih in rebrih, ki so v skladu z ekstrakcijo srca v času smrti z uporabo kremenskega noža z dolgimi rezili. [32] V klasičnem obdobju je bilo žrtvovanje spremljevalcev za spremljanje visokih pokopov verjetno razširjeno in izvedeno z uporabo metode ekstrakcije srca, kar je pustilo malo dokazov o ostankih okostja. Analiza tistih ostankov, ki nosijo sledi, ki kažejo na žrtvovanje srca, kaže, da so Maje v klasičnem obdobju uporabljale metodo, ki je vključevala prerezovanje diafragme tik pod prsnim košem in osvoboditev srca. [33]

V pozni klasični dobi (600–900) so bile značilnosti obrednih praks, ki so se razširile, stojala za lobanje ali tzompantli. Lobanje, ki so bile postavljene tukaj, so bile običajno žrtvenih ritualov in žrtev. Chichen Itza je imel v pozno klasični dobi enega največjih, najbolj izpopolnjenih stojal za lobanje. Bil je visok štiri stopnje in je predstavljal reprezentativne lobanje, vklesane v kamen. Ti regali za lobanje so bili močno povezani z igrami žogic in žrtvovanim obglavljevanjem. [34] V El Tajinu narašča število ritualov, povezanih z igriščem. To mesto je imelo na desetine igrišče, veliko pa je bilo povezanih z obrednimi obglavitvami zaradi pripomočkov, uporabljenih v obrednih praksah. Ta velika igrišča za žoge niso bila namenjena le igri, ampak tudi ritualnim praksam, povezanim s plodnostjo. Številni verski in politični vidiki so bili vključeni v igrišča in igre, zaradi česar imajo različne namene. Ta igrišča so bila pomemben del dramskega prikaza Maya in so jih vladarji uporabljali za dokazovanje moči in vtis na družbe in privržence. [34]

Postklasično obdobje (900–1524) Uredi

Postklasični množični pokop v Champotu v Campecheju v Mehiki je vključeval okostja, ki so dokazovala nasilne udarce v prsnico, ki so jih razlagali kot dokaz žrtvovanja srca. [35] Madridski kodeks, postklasična hieroglifska knjiga Maya, ponazarja žrtvovanje z odvzemom srca, pri čemer je žrtev raztegnjena čez obokan kamen. [36]

Med Kʼicheʼ gorske Gvatemale so se žrtvovali človeški bogovi Kʼicheʼ. Konec 17. stoletja je Francisco Ximénez opisal tradicijo, da so na Tohiljevem templju človeške žrtve vezali pred upodobitvijo božanstva, kjer je duhovnik odprl žrtvi prsni koš in mu izrezal srce. [37] Po žrtvovanju je bilo telo žrtve verjetno vrženo po prednjem stopnišču templja, kjer bi mu odrezali glavo, da bi jo postavili na stojalo za lobanje, ki se je nahajalo pred templjem. [38] V epopeji Kʼicheʼ Popol Vuh bog Tohil od svojega ljudstva zahteva pravico dojenja, kot dojenček materi, vendar je Tohil sesal človeško kri iz prsi žrtvene žrtve. [39] Popol Vuh opisuje tudi, kako je bil heroj Twin Hunahpu žrtvovan z odstranitvijo srca in glave. [5] Človeško žrtvovanje je bilo verjetno opravljeno tudi planinskemu bogu Kʼicheʼ Jacawitzu. [40] Človeško žrtvovanje je omenjeno tudi v dokumentu Kʼicheʼ Título de Totonicapán ("Naslov Totonicapána"). Dolg odlomek, ki opisuje človeško žrtvovanje, je težko razlagati, vendar vsebuje žrtvovanje s srcem in puščico, luščenje žrtve in nošenje njegove kože na način, podoben azteškim obredom, povezanim z njihovim bogom Xipejem Totecom, in omembo žrtvenega noža Tohila . [41]

Kaqchikel Maya, sosedje Kʼicheʼa, so se tudi žrtvovali. V Iximcheju, njihovem glavnem mestu, so izkopali številne dokaze o žrtvovanju ljudi. Človeško žrtvovanje je na mestu prikazano z oltarjem na Strukturi 2, ki se uporablja pri žrtvovanju srca, in z valjastim zakladom lobanj, odvzetih žrtvam brez glave, skupaj z noži iz obsidijana. [42] Pentatonično piščal, izdelano iz stegnenice otroka, so našli v enem od templjev in kaže tudi na človeško žrtvovanje. [43] Iz strukture 3 so našli tudi žrtveni kremenčev nož [42], okrogel oltar na tem mestu pa je zelo podoben tistim, ki so jih Azteki uporabljali za tako imenovano "gladiatorsko žrtvovanje" in je morda temu tudi služil. [44] The Letopis Kaqchikelov zapis, da so okoli leta 1491 vladarji Iximcheja zajeli vladarje Kʼicheʼ, pa tudi podobo Tohila. Ujeti kralj in njegov sovladar sta bila žrtvovana skupaj s kraljevim sinom in vnukom, drugimi plemiči in visokimi bojevniki. [45] Isto besedilo opisuje, kako je Kaqchikel ujel mogočnega gospodarja, imenovanega Tolkʼom, ki je bil privezan na oder in je bil med obrednim plesom ustreljen s puščicami. [20]

Človeško žrtvovanje med španskim osvajanjem (1511–1697) Uredi

Leta 1511 španska karavela Santa María de la Barca odplul vzdolž srednjeameriške obale do Santo Dominga iz Dariena pod poveljstvom Pedra de Valdivije. [46] Ladja je bila uničena na grebenu nekje pri Jamajki. [46] Iz razbitine je preživelo le dvajset, med njimi tudi kapetan Valdivia, Gerónimo de Aguilar in Gonzalo Guerrero. [47] Preživeli so pristali v eni od ladijskih čolnov, s slabimi vesli in brez jadranja po trinajstih dneh, v katerih je umrla polovica preživelih, so pristali na obali Yucatána. [46] Tam jih je zasegel majski gospodar Halach Uinik. [nb 1] Kapitan Valdivia je bil žrtvovan s štirimi spremljevalci, njihovo meso pa so postregli na pogostitvi. Drugi zaporniki so bili zaradi pitja pitani, čeprav sta Aguilar in Guerrero uspela pobegniti. [48]

Po katastrofalnem napadu Uspantána pod vodstvom Španije leta 1529 so bili ujetniki, ki so jih ujeli Uspanteki, žrtvovani Exbalamquenu, enemu od dvojčkov junakov. [49] Leta 1555 so Acala in njihovi zavezniki iz Lacandona ubili španskega fratra Dominga de Vico. [50] De Vico, ki je ustanovil majhno misijonarsko cerkev v San Marcosu (v Alta Verapazu v Gvatemali), je užalil lokalnega vladarja Majev [51], avtohtoni vodja je fratra ustrelil v grlo s puščico, ki so jo jezni domačini žrtvovali. odprel mu je prsni koš in mu izvlekel srce. Njegovo truplo so nato odsekali glavo [52], domačini pa so mu odnesli glavo kot trofejo, ki je Španci nikoli niso našli. [53] V začetku 1620 -ih je španska stranka dobila dovoljenje za obisk še vedno neodvisne prestolnice Itza v Nojpeténu, ki jo je vodil fra Diego Delgado, ki ga je spremljalo 13 španskih vojakov in 80 krščanskih vodnikov Majev iz Tipuja, zdaj v Belizeju. Zabavo so zasegli, ko so prispeli v Nojpetén, in se žrtvovali z odrezanim srcem. Nato so jim odsekali glavo in razstavili glave na kolih po mestu Delgado. [54] Glavna španska stranka je bila januarja 1624 v zasedi v Sakalumu in poklana. Španski kapitan Francisco de Mirones in frančiškanski duhovnik sta bila žrtvovana z uporabo metode ekstrakcije srca, potem ko sta bila vezana na razcepljene stebre cerkve. [55] Tudi ostali španski člani so bili žrtvovani, njihova telesa pa so nabili na kolce pri vhodu v vas. [56]

Leta 1684 so bili v naselju Manche Chʼol na karibski obali Belizeja, verjetno s srčnim žrtvovanjem, ubiti trije frančiškanski fratri. Med njimi so bili Francisco Custodio, Marcos de Muros in neimenovani brat laik. [57]

V Nojpeténu so žrtvovali številne dodatne španske misijonarje. Februarja 1696 so med spopadom med špansko Yucatec in Itzo na zahodni obali jezera Petén Itzá v Nojpetén odpeljali frančiškanskega fratarja Juana de San Buenaventuro in nedoločenega frančiškanskega spremljevalca. Veliki duhovnik Itze AjKin Kan Ekʼ je kasneje pripovedoval, da je dal frančiškane vezati v obliki križev in jim nato izrezati srca. [58] Približno mesec dni kasneje je bila gvatemalska španska ekspedicija zasedena in zaklana dominikanska fratra Cristóbal de Prada in Jacinto de Vargas so bili odpeljani čez otok Nojpetén in so bili pred tem izrezani na podoben način vezani na križe v obliki črke X. [59]

Urejanje kodeksov

Večina dokazov o žrtvenih obredih Maje je vzetih iz slik na njihovih kodeksih. A codex is an ancient manuscript made on sheets of paper, or paper-like materials. These records usually contain information pertinent to that era and people and detail many cultural and ritualistic aspects of life. Much of what is known from Maya culture is gathered from these books. Maya codices contain glyph like imagery that is related to deities, sacrifices, rituals, moon phases, planet movements, and calendars. [60] Three codices that are considered legitimate are the Dresden, Madrid, and Paris Codices. These codices all feature depictions of human sacrificial rituals such as heart extractions and decapitations.

Rock Art Edit

Human sacrifices have also been depicted on rock art at Chalcatzingo sites. One depiction includes four people, with three standing and one sitting. The sitting person is tied up, and nude. The standing figures are dressed in a manner that indicated they are the ones carrying out the ritual. They are wearing headdresses, decorative belts, and capes, and holding a club-like weapon. One of the individuals is holding a staff that was linked to agricultural fertility, possible denoting the purpose of the sacrificial ritual. [61] Other tropes include the victims wearing minimal garments, lying in prone positions to demonstrate lack of power, and sometimes are dressed in headdresses, diadems, animal-like masks, or other adornments that indicate a high-status victim. The Chalcatzingo site has also provided evidence for an uncommon type of human sacrifice, being beaten to death with clubs. Animals are also depicted in rock art related to sacrifices. One depiction includes a feline disemboweling a human with its paws.


Mayan god of Sacrifice

The Aztec civilization which flourished in Mesoamerica between 1345 and 1521 CE has gained an infamous reputation for bloodthirsty human sacrifice with lurid tales of the beating heart being ripped from the still-conscious victim, decapitation, skinning and dismemberment. All of these things did happen but it is important to remember that for the Aztecs the act of sacrifice - of which human sacrifice was only a part - was a strictly ritualised process which gave the highest possible honour to the gods and was regarded as a necessity to ensure mankind’s continued prosperity.

Origins & Purpose

The Aztecs were not the first civilization in Mesoamerica to practise človeško žrtvovanje as probably it was the Olmec civilization (1200-300 BCE) which first began such rituals atop their sacred pyramids. Other civilizations such as the Maya and Toltecs continued the practice. The Aztecs did, however, take sacrifice to an unprecedented scale, although that scale was undoubtedly exaggerated by early chroniclers during the Spanish Conquest, probably to vindicate the Spaniards own brutal treatment of the indigenous peoples. Nevertheless, it is thought that hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of victims were sacrificed each year at the great Aztec religious sites and it cannot be denied that there would also have been a useful secondary effect of intimidation on visiting ambassadors and the populace in general.

In Mesoamerican culture human sacrifices were viewed as a repayment for the sacrifices the gods had themselves made in creating the world and the sun. This idea of repayment was especially true regarding the myth of the reptilian monster Cipactli (or Tlaltecuhtli). The great gods Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca ripped the creature into pieces to create the earth and sky and all other things such as mountains, rivers and springs came from her various body parts. To console the spirit of Cipactli the gods promised her human hearts and blood in appeasement. From another point of view sacrifices were a compensation to the gods for the crime which brought about mankind in Aztec mythology. In the story Ehecatl-Quetzalcóatl stole bones from the Underworld and with them made the first humans so that sacrifices were a necessary apology to the gods.

Gods then were ‘fed’ and ‘nourished’ with the sacrificed blood and flesh which ensured the continued balance and prosperity of Aztec society. 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. Accordingly, meat was burnt or blood poured over the statues of deities so that the gods might partake of it directly. Perhaps the quintessential example of ‘feeding’ the gods were the ceremonies to ensure Tezcatlipoca, the sun god, was well-nourished so that he had the strength to raise the sun each morning.


Huitzilopochtli, Father of the Aztecs

Huitzilopochtli (pronounced Weetz-ee-loh-POSHT-lee) was the patron god of the Aztecs. During the great migration from their legendary home of Aztalan, Huitzilopochtli told the Aztecs where they should establish their capital city of Tenochtitlan and urged them on their way. His name means “Hummingbird of the Left” and he was the patron of war and sacrifice. His shrine, on top of the pyramid of the Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan, was decorated with skulls and painted red to represent blood.


Q&A: Why and how did the Aztecs practise human sacrifice?

Note: Caroline Dodds Pennock was speaking on the HistoryExtra podcast, answering questions about the Aztecs submitted by our readers and the top online search queries posed to the internet. A selection of her answers have been transcribed and edited for clarity, and are shared below…

Q: Why did human sacrifice take place in the Aztec empire, and how often?

O: Frustratingly, it’s quite hard to tell how much sacrifice there was. Depending on which sources or which set of statistics you use, you can either end up with a number that is a very high or really quite low. It’s safe to say though that there was prominent and regular human sacrifice taking place.

The root of this, as far as we can tell, is to do with a reciprocal relationship between the gods and humans. The Aztecs believed that you had to give back to the gods because they gave to you.

The mythical histories of the Aztec people talk about the gods sacrificing themselves to create humanity. Take the account of the great earth crocodile Tlaltecuhtli. She was supposedly ripped in half to create the land, and then humans had to feed her with blood in order to sustain her and pay back the original debt.

In another account, one god goes into the underworld and steals the bones of a man and a woman from a previous era from under the nose of the ‘Lord of the Land of the Dead’. He brings the bones to a place that broadly translates as ‘paradise’, where they are ground up by a female god on a grinding stone and turned into a sort of bone flour. Then the male gods let blood from their penises to moisten the dough in order to form little human figures out of it. The Aztecs believed that up to this point there had been five ages of the world and that they were living in the fifth age, and that is how this incarnation of humanity came to be.

Human sacrifice was intended to pay back the debt that was formed when the gods let blood from themselves to create the world. The Aztecs believed that if they didn’t sustain the sun with blood, the world would come to an end. It was kind of like feeding the gods. Unlike in some other sacrificial cultures, where you might offer a human sacrifice to gain the power of a person – become richer or more important or have more children – for the Aztecs, human sacrifice wasn’t really for personal gain. Essentially, it was an altruistic act – human sacrifice was necessary for all of humanity. This was a communal response to a collective debt.

Listen: Caroline Dodds Pennock responds to listener queries and popular search enquiries about the Mesoamerican civilisation

Q: Who were the victims of sacrifice? Is it true that people willingly volunteered?

O: In theory, there were some voluntary victims of human sacrifice. In reality, it’s very hard to tell whether this was the case. The majority of victims were people (mostly men, but sometimes women and children) captured in war. Some of them were sacrificed as generic victims – if they needed to sacrifice say five people. Some were sacrificed as impersonators of the gods, known as ixiptla they took on the mantle of a god and were killed in honour of the gods they were impersonating. Te ixiptla formed a prominent part of the regular festivals.

Children were sacrificed in particular for Tlaloc, the rain god. These children were mostly from within the Aztec group – they came from Tenochtitlan, the ancient capital of the Aztec empire. We know that if you were born with a double cowlick – those flicks that make your hair go in the wrong direction – then you were destined to become a sacrificial victim.

There is some talk about whether if, when a child like this was born, especially in a culture with a high infant-mortality rate, you might have been able to kind of mentally distance from them. But we also know that sacrifice was based on a sympathetic magic. The children were supposed to cry, and people were supposed to cry about them dying. These tears would bring the rain.

For me, it’s very notable that the children offered to Tlaloc were not killed in the city, but were instead taken into the mountains to be sacrificed in a lake. It’s significant that the one sacrifice that very prominently took place away from the city is that of Aztec children. You wonder whether people would have been prepared to watch that spectacle in quite the same way.

We mustn’t forget that other cities around Tenochtitlan were also practising sacrifice. There was an acceptance that as a warrior, if you were captured by another city, you could be sacrificed.

It was a shared belief that dying as a sacrifice or in battle was one of the very few ways you could get a privileged afterlife. The closest parallel is something like martyrdom, where you die for the gods and gain a privilege as a result. The vast majority of people were destined for a place called Mictlan after they died, which is not exactly hell, but is a nonetheless dark, damp and unpleasant place, where you would have to endure low-grade suffering for eternity.

But if you were a man who died in sacrifice, first you would accompany the sun for four years, leading and heralding the gods in a glorious way. Then, you would go off to become a hummingbird or a butterfly that dances in the sun and sips nectar. The sources suggest that in paradise, you would live drunk, oblivious to the cares of the world. You can see why that might seem an appealing option.

In reality, the likelihood is that while some people faced the prospect of being sacrificed by exalting their cities, praising the gods and bravely accepting their fate as a warrior, other people were dragged kicking and screaming.

Caroline Dodds Pennock is lecturer in international history at the University of Sheffield, and author of Bonds of Blood: Gender, Lifecycle and Sacrifice in Aztec Culture(Palgrave Macmillan, paperback edition, 2008).


There are many pieces of archaeological evidence in reference to the use of entheogens early in the history of Mesoamerica. Olmec burial sites with remains of the Bufo toad (Bufo marinus), Maya mushroom effigies, [ dvomljivo - razpravljati ] and Spanish writings all point to a heavy involvement with psychoactive substances in the Aztec lifestyle.

The Florentine codex contains multiple references to the use of psychoactive plants among the Aztecs. The 11th book of the series contains identifications of five plant entheogens. R. Gordon Wasson, Richard Evans Schultes, and Albert Hofmann have suggested that the statue of Xochipilli, the Aztec 'Prince of Flowers,' contains effigies of a number of plant based entheogens.

The plants were primarily used by the priests, or tlamacazqui, other nobility, and visiting dignitaries. They would use them for divination much as the indigenous groups of central Mexico do today. The priests would also ingest the entheogens to engage in prophecy, interpret visions, and heal.

Ololiuqui (Coatl xoxouhqui) was identified as Rivea corymbosa in 1941 by Richard Evans Schultes. The name Ololiuqui refers to the brown seeds of the Rivea corymbosa (Morning Glory) plant. Tlitliltzin was identified later as being Ipomoea violacea by R. Gordon Wasson. This variation contains black seeds and usually has bluish hued flowers.

The seeds of these plants contain the psychoactive d-lysergic acid amide, or LSA. The preparation of the seeds involved grinding them on a metate, then filtering them with water to extract the alkaloids. The resulting brew was then drunk to bring forth visions.

The Florentine Codex Book 11 describes the Ololiuqui intoxication:

It makes one besotted it deranges one, troubles one, maddens one, makes one possessed. He who eats it, who drinks it, sees many things which greatly terrify him. He is really frightened [by the] poisonous serpent which he sees for that reason.

The morning glory was also utilized in healing rituals by the ticitl. The ticitl would often take ololiuqui to determine the cause of diseases and illness. It was also used as an anesthetic to ease pain by creating a paste from the seeds and tobacco leaf, then rubbing it on the affected body part.

Called "Teonanácatl" in Nahuatl (literally "god mushroom"—compound of the words teo(tl) (god) and nanácatl (mushroom))—the mushroom genus Psilocybe has a long history of use within Mesoamerica. [1] The members of the Aztec upper class would often take teonanácatl at festivals and other large gatherings. According to Fernando Alvarado Tezozomoc, it was often a difficult task to procure mushrooms. They were quite costly as well as very difficult to locate, requiring all-night searches.

Both Fray Bernardino de Sahagún and Fray Toribio de Benavente Motolinia describe the use of the mushrooms. [2] The Aztecs would drink chocolate and eat the mushrooms with honey. Those partaking in the mushroom ceremonies would fast before ingesting the sacrament. The act of taking mushrooms is known as monanacahuia, meaning to "mushroom oneself".

At the very first, mushrooms had been served. They ate no more food they only drank chocolate during the night. And they ate the mushrooms with honey. When the mushrooms took effect on them, then they danced, then they wept. But some, while still in command of their senses, entered and sat there by the house on their seats they did no more, but only sat there nodding.

Some written observations under the influence of the doctrine of Catholicism account the use of the mushroom among the Montezumanic people. Allegedly, during the emperor's coronation ceremony, many prisoners were sacrificed, had their flesh eaten, and their hearts removed. Those who were invited guests to the feast ate mushrooms, which Diego Durán describes as causing those who ate them to go insane. After the defeat of the Aztecs, the Spanish forbade traditional religious practices and rituals that they considered "pagan idolatry", including ceremonial mushroom use.

Not much is known of the use of sinicuichi (alternate spelling sinicuiche) among the Aztecs. R. Gordon Wasson identified the flower on the statue of Xochipilli and suggested from its placement with other entheogens that it was probably used in a ritualistic context. Multiple alkaloids have been isolated from the plant with cryogenine, lythrine, and nesodine being the most important.

Sinicuichi could be the plant tonatiuh yxiuh "the herb of the sun" from the Aztec Herbal of 1552. tonatiuh means sun. This is interesting because today in Central and South America, sinicuichi is often called abre-o-sol, or the "sun opener." Tonatiuh yxiuh is described as being a summer blooming plant, as is Heimia.

The Herbal also includes a recipe for a potion to conquer fear. It reads:

Let one who is fear-burdened take as a drink a potion made of the herb tonatiuh yxiuh which throws out the brightness of gold.

One of the effects of sinicuichi is that it adds a golden halo or tinge to objects when ingested. [ potreben citat ]

Tlapatl in mixitl are both Datura species, Datura stramonium in Datura innoxia, with strong hallucinogenic (deliriant) properties. The plants typically have large, white or purplish, trumpet-shaped flowers and spiny seed capsules, that of D. stramonium being held erect and dehisceing by four valves and that of D. innoxia nodding downward and breaking up irregularly. The active principles are the tropane alkaloids atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine.

The use of datura spans millennia. It has been employed by both many indigenous groups in North, Central, and South America for a variety of uses. Klicano toloache today in Mexico, datura species were used among the Aztec for medicine, divination, and malevolent purposes.

For healing, tlapatl was made into an ointment which was spread over infected areas to cure gout, as well as applied as a local anesthetic. The plants were also utilized to cause harm to others. For example, it was believed that mixitl would cause a being to become paralyzed and mute, while tlapatl will cause those who take it to be disturbed and go mad.

The cactus known as peyotl, or more commonly peyote (Lophophora williamsii), has a rich history of use in Mesoamerica. Its use in northern Mexico among the Huichol has been written about extensively. It is thought that since peyote only grows in certain regions of Mexico, the Aztecs would receive dried buttons through long-distance trade. Peyote was viewed as being a protective plant by the Aztec. Sahagún suggested that the plant is what allowed the Aztec warriors to fight as they did.

R. Gordon Wasson has posited that the plant known as pipiltzintzintli is in fact Salvia divinorum. It is not entirely known whether or not this plant was used by the Aztecs as a psychotropic, but Jonathan Ott (1996) argues that although there are competing species for the identification of pipiltzintzintli, Salvia divinorum is probably the "best bet." There are references to use of pipiltzintzintli in Spanish arrest records from the conquest, as well as a reference to the mixing of ololiuqui z pipiltzintzintli.

Contemporaneously, the Mazatec, meaning "people of the deer" in Nahuatl, from the Oaxaca region of Mexico utilize Salvia divinorum kdaj Psilocybe spp. mushrooms are not readily available. They chew and swallow the leaves of fresh salvia to enter into a shamanic state of consciousness. The Mazatec use the plant in both divination and healing ceremonies, perhaps as the Aztecs did 500 years ago. Modern users of Salvia have adapted the traditional method, forgoing the swallowing of juices due to Salvinorin A being readily absorbed by the mucous membranes of the mouth.


Aztec Culture and Human Sacrifice

The first thing to understand about the Mesoamerican cultures and the Aztecs’ use of human sacrifice is that they were not horrified by it. Instead, it was a natural part of life to them, necessary to keep the world balanced and going forward. Blood and sacrifice helped the sun to rise and move across the sky. Without it, their world would end.

That’s not to say that all Aztecs and other Mesoamericans went to the sacrifice willingly. No doubt many did not want to be sacrificed or to die. Others, however, agreed to give of themselves for the greater good. When we picture victims being led to sacrifice, we see them as weeping, moaning and fighting to get free. For the most part, that simply didn’t happen.

To die as a sacrifice was the most honorable death the Aztecs knew. When an Aztec warrior died in battle or an Aztec woman in childbirth, those were also good, honorable deaths. People who died as a sacrifice, as a warrior or in childbirth went to a paradise to be with the gods after death. In contrast, a person who died of disease went to the lowest level of the underworld, Mictlan.

Many scholars have devised theories to explain this “darkness” of the Aztecs, their love of human sacrifice. Some posited that Aztecs were savages and amoral, less than human. Others have said the Aztec leaders used human sacrifice to terrorize their population and the nearby cultures. Some stated that an essential protein was missing from the Aztec diet and they needed the “meat” from human sacrifices to feed themselves, using cannibalism to do so. None of these theories, however, have held up.

From its earliest inception, Mesoamerican cultures featured human sacrifice so it was plainly not “invented” by Aztec rulers to terrorize the people, nor was it a betrayal by the priesthood of Aztec spirituality. Studies of the Aztec’s mainly vegetarian diet flavored with occasional turkey or dog revealed all necessary ingredients to sustain life. The Aztecs had laws against murder and injury, just as we do, so it wasn’t that they were depraved savages.

Rather, it was a central part of their religion and spirituality, to give up their blood and lives in devotion and dedication to the gods who had sacrificed themselves to create the world and keep it going. Most religions contain an element of sacrifice—giving up meat in Lent, for example—and giving your life for a friend is a great act of love. The Aztecs accepted this as a necessary part of life. By dying as a sacrifice, they honored the gods. Still, we can’t help but think that many didn’t wish to die, but accepted it as inevitable.

After the Spanish Conquest, many Spanish priests and friars learned enough of the Aztec’s language to talk with Aztec survivors of the battles and diseases. From them, the Spanish learned that many of the sacrificial victims were friends of the Royal House, or high-ranking nobility and priests. Every class of Aztec occasionally were sacrificed, and all ages as well. Children were sacrificed to the god of rain. Often enough, however, it was nobles and captured warriors whose hearts fed the gods. Remember, however, that being sacrificed was most prestigious way to die. While this shocks us today, we must nevertheless give the Aztecs their due—they found human sacrifice not only acceptable, but necessary and honorable.


Aztec Sacrifice Rituals for the Most Important Gods

While all of the Aztec gods were important, there was a commonly accepted hierarchy. Not all gods are created equal you know, unless they weren’t created at all that is.

Huitzilopochtli

This one was both the manifestation of the Aztec character and the sun, so he was kind of a big deal. The sacrifice he was given was the one where the warrior who captured him got to eat him and considering dental hygiene wasn’t a thing, this guy probably dawned the cologne that every Aztec man dreamed of, rotting corpse.

Tezcatlipoca

He was the most powerful and most feared. The god of darkness, chaos and generally screwing things up for people, was not kind or merciful though having the power to be exactly that.

For his dedicated ritual, a child is the target, which seems fitting for Tezcatlipoca. The child pretends to be the god for an entire month and is given four beautiful women, because a child will know what to do from there. At the end of the month, the kid is dead.

Xiuhtecuhtli

He was the god of fire and had a previous form with a name just as crazy as the rest of these gods. His sacrifice rituals involved food, which obviously means it can’t be that bad, and it isn’t that bad until captives start being burned alive and have their hearts ripped out, while they’re still breathing I might add. The Aztec gods really had a thing for hearts. Of course, the Aztecs would do anything if they were threatened with an all consuming fire. Talk about your plans going up in smoke.


Top 10 Fascinating Aztecs Facts:

  1. Cacao beans (the beans used to grow chocolate) were often used as money by the Aztecs.
  2. The Aztecs were the first people to introduce Europeans to chocolate!
  3. The Aztec family was such an important part of society that women who died in childbirth were given the same honours as warriors killed in battle.
  4. When the conquistadors arrived on horseback, some Aztecs believed that horse and rider were one strange creature because they had never seen horses before.
  5. It was not uncommon for poor Aztec families to sell their own children into slavery.
  6. Aztec men were allowed to have more than one wife. The first wife he married was his principle wife and any wives after that were less important.
  7. Aztecs commonly buried family members right underneath the family home.
  8. Around 600 people a year were killed in Aztec society in order to appease the gods.
  9. The aim of war for the Aztecs was not to kill people but to capture them so that they could be offered as sacrifices to the gods.
  10. Children would be sacrificed if there was a drought because it was believed that their tears would bring rain.

Teachers: If you're looking for in-depth lessons on the Aztecs, check out our Aztecs Cross-Curricular Topic for KS2, with Art, DT, History, Geography and Computing lessons.


Becky Cranham

I set up PlanBee in 2009 to help redress the teacher workload balance. I love finding new ways to make teachers' lives easier and writing about educational ideas and issues for both teachers and parents.


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