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The Ritual Of Human Sacrifices Performed By The Aztec People. How It Happens And Reasons For It...

1268 words - 5 pages

Human sacrifice is a forgotten art or religious ritual. Nowadays many people do not even know that these rituals even existed and were the daily life and way of the Aztec people. Through my research I have discovered that human sacrifices were done not only by the Aztec but also by many cultures throughout the continent, but the Aztec people were most renowned because of their sacrifices and feared by many tribes.To understand how and why human sacrifices were practiced there is a need to understand the fundamentals ideas of the Aztec people and their religion. Central Mexico and its large highland valleys with their fertile soils and abundant resources were home to approximately one million Aztecs in the year 1519 (Smith 9). Michael E Smith the author of the "Aztecs the people of America" explains,A Fundamental idea of Aztec religion was that the gods sacrificed themselves in order to benefit humankind. In one myth, the gods threw themselves into a huge fire to create the sun; in another they spilled their own blood in order to create the people. These myths established a debtor relationship between humankind and the gods - a debt that could be repaid only though offerings of human blood and life. Human sacrifices and blood letting, also know as autosacrifice, were primary forms of ritual in Aztec society. (Smith 205)The stability of the world depended on the relationship between the gods and man and so certain rituals were introduced such as human sacrifices and blood offering. These were made in recognition of the myth of mans creation and on a more practical level as a nourishment for the sun and all the other gods. (Bray 171) Bloodletting was a slightly minor ritual as compared to human sacrifices. Here the priests would nourish the gods by drawing blood from their tongues, ears, extremities or genitals. Human blood was the most valuable substance one could offer to the gods and is said that all Aztecs at one point in their lives practiced it. (Smith 221) Although autosacrifice was an important ritual, human sacrifice was of utmost importance, it is believed that the Aztecs sacrificed approximately 10,000 to 50,000 victims a year, most of those sacrificed were war captives but slaves and children were purchased and then sacrificed as well. (Bray 172)I will explain how the sacrificial ceremony took place, but first I must state that the actual sacrifice was the climax of a chain of ceremonies that were done before. These ceremonies varied according to the god that was being honored and one of the most prestigious sacrificial ceremonies was that of the feast of "Tezcaltipoco" (smoking mirror). Tezcaltipoco was a god who gave and took away life. (Bray 162) The feats of Tezcaltipoco were held in the 5th month of the 18th month calendar that the Aztec followed. Here a priest would choose a captured enemy warrior who is unblemished, handsome, well-bred youth with no bodily imperfections. The preparation for this sacrifice begins long before the...

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