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Aztecs: People of the Sun

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Essay title: Aztecs: People of the Sun

Aztecs: People of the Sun

The Aztecs were an indigenous people located in central and southern Mexico. They adhered to a strict religion based on destiny, war, manifest destiny, and duality. From the time that they were born, society began molding them into the fierce soldiers that the Aztecs became known to be. This is evident through out all aspects of their culture. It is through these policies and structures that one can see the aggressiveness that these warriors lived every day. In order to prove how deeply ingrained this gruesome warrior mentality was to the Aztec people, it is important to use their art, religion, and social structures as examples.

The Aztecs believed that they had a destiny, given to them by their gods. In it, they were to preserve the rain and agricultural fertility, to battle and extend their territories, and to sacrifice Aztec enemies to the gods in order to preserve life and the sun. It is evident here, that they are to accomplish manifest destiny, through the means of war. Extending Aztec lands allows them to work towards their fate and gives them motivation to accomplish more for their people and to capture more lands. It is important to use the different parts of Aztec culture to show the aggressiveness that became accustomed to them. The first aspect of their culture that depicts these ideas is their art.

There is a large variety of Aztec art excavated today, which illustrates this idea of fulfilling the destiny. It is evident that they truly believe this fate and the warrior mentality. Through out the different pieces of Aztec sculpture, painting, and other artistic works, the ideas of death, sacrifice, and violence are ramped. An example of this depicted in art is a wall that was uncovered in the Great Temple precinct of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan. It is rows of stone skulls on a tzompantli, or skullrack. 1 This shows the gruesome aspects of the warrior mentality discussed prior, because this culture condoned this piece and displayed it for others to see. Another example is a stone relief of the dismembered goddess, Coyolxauhqui. 2 This piece was found in the same area as the stone wall. This shows that their religion and thus, their society, complied with this type of aggression. A third example of the Aztec antagonism is a large skull decorated with a mosaic mask. 3 This offers the idea of sacrifice, which will be discussed later on. A final example of the aspects discussed is a painting of half life and half death. In it, Mictlantecuhtli and Quetzalcoatl are depicted back to back over the jaws of oblivion. They represent life and death, and show the Aztec idea of duality. 4 This is important because is shows the Aztec destiny of preserving life as well as their concepts of death. All of the above illustrate the different art pieces that prove that the Aztec warrior mentality ran deep into the inner workings of their culture.

The next aspect of Aztec life to be discussed is their religion. These were an exceptionally religious people. They believed that the gods made all decisions, and as such, they always consulted a priest before making any. The priests were also involved in all aspects of society, including their political realm. It is important to grasp the basics of their beliefs in order to prove the aggression of these people, people religion is what drove all of them. First of all, the idea of manifest destiny was seen in their religion. The faith called for them to fight battles and gain lands and people. These people were considered enemies of the Aztec state and were used in sacrifices done after the wars were fought and won. Another part of Aztec religion is the concept of duality. This means that there are always two sides to everything. It is based on the fact that nature had a destructive aspect that they felt need to be avoided at all costs. Their rituals were; therefore, a means of evading this and other forces of nature. This was done to find harmony with in the environment. They believed that

"the struggle of the sun against the power of the darkness was

not only the struggle of the gods, but it was also, above all,

the struggle of good against evil. The mission of the Aztecs,

was, then, to be on the side of the sun, the symbol of good,

opposing the fearful gods of darkness, the symbols of evil." 5

Because of these religious notions, the people viewed the greatest sin was to fail to participate in this master plan, which was to protect the sun. In other words, "the fundamental virtue among this religious, warlike people was courage displayed in combat and stoicism in the face of pain

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