Full Text

Human Sacrifice (Aztec)

Subject Religion

Place Central America » Mexico

Key-Topics sacrifice

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ xxv ] Human sacrifice, called tlamictiliztli , was a widespread M esoamerican religious practice which proliferated during the expansion of Aztec power. Its stated purpose was the constant renovation of cosmic order and the nourishing of the gods, who were fed the blood and hearts of the ixiptla , or representative of the gods, in the form of the sacrificed victim. Aztec myths relate that the Fifth Sun ( see T ezcatlipoca ) was created through the sacrifice of the gods [12: 44–5], who subsequently created warfare among humans so that captured warriors could be ritually killed to feed the sun and other deities. Aztec warfare was carried out in part to supply the major temples with sacrificial victims. The most highly valued sacrificial victims were captive warriors, who were treated with elaborate care and ceremony because they were considered the living representatives of the deities [2: ix ]. Women, children and slaves paid as tribute from enemy provinces were also ritually sacrificed. The variety of sacrificial methods included shooting with arrows ( see figure 6 ), beheading, immolation and, most commonly, heart extraction. In the latter case, the victim was killed with the tecpatl , a jewelled flint-knife wielded by the Q uetzalcoatl priest or the T latoani (ruler). The victim was stretched over the techcatl (sacrificial stone), located at the top of the temple ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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