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Pre Columbian Art: The Role Of Art In The Aztec Religion

978 words - 4 pages

For my topic, I chose to study and critique Pre-Columbian art at the Baltimore Museum of Art. The collection of Art of the Ancient Americas represents 59 artistic traditions ranging in time from 2500 B.C. - A.D. 1521, and features works from the widely recognized Aztec and Maya of Mesoamerica, Chimú and Muisca of Andean South America, and Nicoya and Atlantic Watershed of Costa Rica. Notable objects include a finely worked serpentine figure of Olmec mastery, elegant portrayals of Maya and Aztec noblewomen showcasing the integral roles women played in the social, political, economic, and spiritual realms of society, and miniature gold votives in the Muisca tradition ( Ancient Americans). Ancient Aztec art was primarily a form of religious expression and a means for paying tribute to their gods.The Aztec civilization originated in the area of present day Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado. Historic accounts commonly begin in the late 12th century as they migrated to what is now central Mexico. Modern day Mexicans are of mixed Spanish and indigenous ancestry, descendants of the Mexicas (Aztecs) or of other indigenous peoples of the Aztec Empire and Mesoamerica. Mexico City now stands on the site of the Aztec's most elaborate and capitol city (Kris K Hirst).The Aztecs were an advanced and prosperous civilization who built beautiful and sophisticated cities. At their peak, the Aztec civilization had about 15 million people who lived in nearly 500 communities. The Aztecs were culturally developed in music, arts, crafts, and the sciences. Music played an important role in Aztec religious rituals for worshiping their many gods. About 300,000 people lived in Tenochtitlan, their capitol. In this famous city, the government controlled and was responsible for punishment, agriculture, and all aspects of the civilization's economy.The Aztec religion included human sacrifices in rich ceremonies to the gods. Dress was also important in all parts of Aztec life. The Aztecs worshiped hundreds of gods and goddesses; each represented a different aspect of life. Designing clothes, mainly in the upper class, was one form of art in the Aztec culture. Women usually made the clothing, and they richly decorated them with beads, flowers, and precious metals.Ceremonies were very important during the agricultural seasons to ensure good crops as well as for Coronations. During these ceremonies human sacrifices were given to the gods. Many of the sacrifices were war prisoners or children. They felt that human hearts and blood gave the gods strength and appeased them when they were angry. Large temples were built to celebrate the offering of sacrifices. The famous Sunstone Calendar, which was twelve feet in diameter, represented the Aztec universe. It is thought that the hearts of human sacrifices were placed on this stone and presented to the gods. The Aztecs believed in many gods, to whom they paid tribute daily (Liz Sonneborn 124).The first piece I looked at in...

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