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The Religion of the Aztecs By:Caitlin Brogan Deirdre Wylie Kathleen McGowan Ryan McBride.

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Presentation on theme: "The Religion of the Aztecs By:Caitlin Brogan Deirdre Wylie Kathleen McGowan Ryan McBride."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Religion of the Aztecs By:Caitlin Brogan Deirdre Wylie Kathleen McGowan Ryan McBride

2 A Brief Background Located in central Mexico Empire spanned from the 14 th -16 th centuries

3 A Brief Background The Aztecs referred to themselves as Mexica Tenochtitlan, the center of their civilization, is modern day Mexico City An Aztec myth states that one of their gods, Huitzilopochtli, told them to settle on the site where they witnessed an eagle on a cactus devouring a serpent. They named that land Tenochtitlan.

4 A Brief Background Practiced a Mesoamerican religion which served to: - unify the people -solve the mysteries of life -maintain order Fall of empire marked by takeover of Tenochtitlan by Spanish conquistadors in 1520s

5 A Syncretistic Religion Prior to the arrival of the conquistadors, the empire was highly successful and rapidly growing Success attributed to combining beliefs and practices of conquered people into one religion Practiced a syncretistic religion

6 Priestly Hierarchy Organized priestly hierarchy governed empire Priestly duties: -ensure regularity of seasonal cycles -servants to the deities -rule over people -conduct ritual ceremonies -lead military -govern schools

7 Priestly Hierarchy Levels of ascension: novice priests, offering priests, fire priests, Quetzalcoatl, and Tlatoani Tlatoani -high priest with divine right -head of the military -people were not allowed to look him in the eye

8 Priestly Hierarchy Quetzalcoatl was the title given to the two priests who ranked below Tlatoani (not to be confused with the god Quetzalcoatl) -presided over shrines atop the Great Temple -only priests allowed to marry and have families of their own Fire priests were the priests in charge of human sacrifices

9 Beginning of human sacrificing Idea started because of belief in main sun god Hulzilopochtli –They believed that the sun god fought the moon and star gods every night to bring life to the earth so mankind could live –Aztec people worshiped the sun god and felt obligated to repay him for fighting their battle by nourishing him

10 How to repay the Sun God They realized that they cannot nourish a god on what mere mortals would eat. They came to the conclusion that the gods must be nourished on what gives life, which is blood.

11 Types of Sacrifices Varied according to: –Specific god being nourished –The celebration that was going on

12 Sacrifice by God 3 examples: –Name unknown What was required? –sacrifice was a mature woman from a noble family of Aztec descent –Sacrifice to Rain God Tlaloc What was required? –The sacrifice of a child with two cowlicks in their hair –Sacrifice to strengthen Sun God during eclipse What was required? –The sacrifice of the blood and heart of an Albino (believed they were “full of light”)

13 Sacrifice by Celebration 2 important celebrations –God’s Feast Day During this day the priests of the community would kill their slaves for the gods done to try to sway the gods to provide the people with sustenance –O’Nothing Days During the night, priests would dress up as one of the supreme gods would then wait on top of an extinct volcano and wait for the evening star to reach the top of the sky The priest would then open the victim’s chest and light their heart on fire –while the heart was still beating they would tear the heart out of the sacrifices body and put it in a bowl to offer to the gods

14 GODS

15 Gods The Aztecs believed in gods for different situations – Creation of their world – For fertility, regeneration – Death – War – Sacrificial nourishment of the sun

16 Nature gods Gods of creation Gods of excess Gods of maize and fertility Gods of death and the underworld The trade gods Categories of the Gods

17 Hulzilopochtli –Also known as hummingbird –Most important god –the patron god of the entire Aztec society “patron god” is believed to be one who the Aztecs created their entire society around “patron god” is assumed to have created their remote ancestors as well as assigned the people their language, customs, characteristics, and professions The god of war, sacrifice, and the sun

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19 Tezcatlipocatl Also known as smoking mirror The shaman god

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21 Quetzalcoatl also known as feathered serpent The god of life

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23 Levels of the world 1.Human World 2.Upper World 3.Nether World

24 Upper World Inaccessible to humans Has 13 layers Also known as Tialocan

25 Human World Also known as the earth world

26 Nether World Has 9 layers Also known as Mictlan

27 The life cycle consists of birth, life, death, and rebirth. When someone dies they go to either to Mictlan, Tialocan, or the sun

28 Fallen warriors and women who died during childbirth were thought to have their souls “transform into hummingbirds that would follow the sun on its journey thorough the sky People that drowned went to Tialocan All others go to Mictlan

29 2 Types of Calendars Xiuhpohualli -Year Count Tonalpohualli - Day Count

30 Xiuhpohualli Xiuhpohualli – Year Count 365 day calendar that followed the agricultural year. Consisted of 18 months with 20 days in each 52 years

31 Tonalpohualli Tonalpohualli - Day Count 260 days Religious calendar A day consists of a number and a symbol. Each day sign is dedicated to a god.

32 Festivals Each month had its own festival Each festival had its own deity that was worshipped All of the festivals had agricultural themes –Sowing, planting, and harvesting

33 Xiuhmolpilli Xiuhmolpilli –To prevent the end of the world. Abstinence from work, fasting, ritual cleansing, ritual bloodletting, destruction of old household items and observance of silence

34 Toxcatl Fifth twenty-day month Sacrifice of a young man Tezcatlipoca- God of God’s

35 References Beltran, A. (1961). The Ancient sun kingdoms of the americas. Cleveland & New York: The World Publishing Company Brundage, Burr Cartwright. (1983). The Fifth Sun: Aztec Gods, Aztec World. Austin: University of Texas. Carrasco, David (1998). Daily Life of the Aztecs: People of the Sun and Earth. Greenwood Press, Connecticut Davies, Nigel (1973) The Aztecs: A History. Macmillan. European Voyages of Exploration: Aztec Empire. (2010, April 4). Home | University of Calgary. Image posted on eurvoya/ aztec.html. Introduction to the Aztec Calendar. (2010, April 9) Aztec Calendar: Today in the Tonalpohualli, the Sacred Aztec Calendar of Mexico. Mexico Lock & Key. (2010, April 4) About Us. Image posted on locknkey.com/About-Us.html. Moctezuma, E.M. (2002). Aztec. London: Royal Academy of Arts. Smith, Michael Ernest. (1998). The Aztecs. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell. The Aztec Gateway. (2010, April 9). Townsend, Richard F. (1992). The Aztecs. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd. Vaillant, S.B. (1962). Aztecs of Mexico: Origin, rise and fall of the Aztec nation. Garden City, N.Y.: Boubleday & Company, Inc. Van Tuerenhout, Dirk (2005). The Aztecs: New Perspectives. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-Clio.


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