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Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ xxv ] The priests, of various levels, who directed all facets of ceremonial and educational life in late pre-Hispanic central Mexico (1325–1521 ce ) [19: 78–90, 147–50]. Most temples had full-time resident priests and the larger temples had both male and female religious specialists or cihuateopixque , who acted as the primary intermediaries between the society and the gods. One of the principal responsibilities of the teopixque was the transmission of the historical and religious traditions in oral form ( see H uehuetlatolli ) [12: 177–83] and pictorial books called amoxtlacuilolli. They also directed the elaborate ritual schedules for the temples, the construction and renovation of ceremonial buildings, the fabrication of statues, the sacrifice of animals and humans ( see H uman sacrifice ) and the education of the nobles. Controlling the priestly hierarchy were the dual high priests called quequetzalcao (see T opiltzin quetzalcoatl ), who also directed the activities of part-time rotational priests and votive penitent priests. The latter usually came from the upper classes and their temporary service in the temples gained them divine favour and prestige. All priests painted themselves black, practised sexual abstinence, performed a rigorous schedule of offerings and carried out penitential exercises, especially blood-letting from special parts of the body. On special ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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