Aztec Site

The legend retold... From the start to the last breath...

Mythology and religion

The Coat of Arms of Mexico, from Aztec mythology
The Aztec Sun Stone, also known as the Aztec Calendar Stone, at National Museum of AnthropologyMexico City.
The Aztec goddess of Coatlicue, mother earth. National Museum of Anthropology.
Source: Wikipedia 

The Mexica and Aztecs made reference to at least two representations of the supernatural and gods: tēōtl and tēixiptlaTēōtl referred to an impersonal force that permeated the world. Tēixiptla, on the other hand, denoted the physical representations and manifestations ("idols", statues and figurines) of the tēōtl as well as the human cultic activity surrounding this physical representation. The Aztec and Mexica "gods" practically had no existence as distinct entities apart from these tēixiptla representations of tēōtl.

Worshiping Huitzilopochtli, the personification of the sun and of war, was key to the religious, social and political practices of the Mexicas. Huitzilopochtli attained this prime position after the founding of Tenochtitlan and the formation of the Mexica city-state society in the 1300. Before this, Huitzilopochtli was associated with hunting, probably one of the important parts of life for the bands and tribes that would eventually become the Mexica, and then the Aztecs.

Myth says that Huitzilopochtli directed the Mexica tribe to found a city on the site where they would see an eagle eating a snake perched on a cactus. (It was said that Huitzilopochtli killed his nephew, Cópil, and threw his heart on the lake. Huitzilopochtli honoured Cópil by causing a cactus to grow over Cópil's heart.) Legend has it that this is the very place in which the Mexicas built their capital city of Tenochtitlan, which grew to be a giant. This legendary vision is pictured on the Coat of arms of Mexico.

According to their own history, when the Mexicas arrived in the Anahuac valley (Valley of Mexico) around Lake Texcoco, the tribes already living there looked down on them as uncivilized. The Mexicas borrowed most of their culture from the ancient Toltecs whom they seem to have at least confused a bit with the older civilization of Teotihuacan. To the Mexicas, the Toltecs were wise and strong. In the Florentine Codex, it states that the Toltecs were wise; their works perfect; everything that they made was marvelous. To the Mexicas, the Toltecs were the originators of all culture, the Aztec's intellectual and cultural ancestors; "Toltecayōtl" was a synonym for culture. Mexica legends identify the Toltecs and the cult of Quetzalcoatl with the mythical city of Tollan, which they also identified with the older Teotihuacan.

Like every other Mesoamerican cultures, the Aztecs played a variant of the Mesoamerican ballgame (probably borrowed from the Mayans), called tlachtli or ollamaliztli in Nahuatl. The game was played with a ball made out of solid rubber, called an olli, whence derives the Spanish word for rubber, hule. The players can hit the ball with their hips, knees, and elbows and had to pass the ball through a stone ring to automatically win. The practice of the ballgame carried religious and mythological meanings and also was used as sport.







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