Thursday, January 16, 2014

History mystery: Aztec Religion

Aztec Religion-1
Aztec belief was based on nature, its cycles and its time space where the people were more concerned with the destruction of nature and hence their rituals were conducted to avoid the chaotic and destructive forces of nature and be in harmony with it. The Aztec religion was a set of complex beliefs, rituals and gods which helped them to make sense on reality, their world and death. Importance was given to the sun, moon and the planet Venus which had different religious and symbolic meanings, connection to geographical places and deities. They were highly focused in keeping nature in balance through a series of binary oppositions like wet and dry, hot and cold, day and night, light and dark and the role of humans was to balance this with the help of appropriate sacrifices and ceremonies which they performed.

Aztec Religion-2
The need to control nature was prominent in their calendar system; two of these calendars when combined formed a third one. While the first calendar, Xihuiti, a natural year calendar was used as a means of measuring the agricultural year providing the basis on which they performed rituals to various gods, the second calendar, Tonalpohualli was a specific calendar, the structure of which was based on a combination of sign and number determining the fate of persons based on the date of their birth. The first and the second calendar combined together formed the third calendar, Xiuhmolpilli which had a cycle of fifty two solar years, the time needed for the two calendars to have a coincident beginning. The Aztec pantheon, which was a Greek word meaning, `all of the gods’, related their specific needs which were rooted in Mesoamerican tradition where a large part of the Aztec pantheon were inherited from this civilizations and others, namely Tlaloc, Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca who were venerated by various names in most cultures in the history of Mesoamerica. Important deities for the Aztec were Tlaloc, which was the god of rain, Huitzilopochtli, the patron god of Mexica tribe, the culture hero and god of civilization and order was Quetzalcoati and Tezcatlipoca being the god of destiny and fortune, connected with sorcery and war.

Aztec Religion-3
Huitzilopochtli, being the war and sun god was the main deity in the Aztec religion and was also the national god of Mexicas of Tenochtitlan. Tezcatlipoca, one of the four sons of Ometeoti is connected with various concepts which include the night winds, hurricanes, the night sky, the earth, the north enmity, temptation, sorcery, beauty, ruler ship, discord, divinity, war and strife. He is portrayed with his right foot replaced with a snake or an obsidian mirror an allusion to creation myth where he lost his foot while in battle with the Earth monster. At times the mirror is shown on his chest and sometimes smoke would come from the mirror. Tezcatlipoca is described as a rival of another god of the Aztec, Quetzalcoatl, and the culture hero while Quetzalcoatl, a Mesoamerican deity whose name is derived from the Nahuati language, meaning feathered serpent, is the first worship which was documented in Teotihuacan during the first century BC or first century CE.

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