A Scattering of Jades: Stories, Poems, and Prayers of the Aztecs / Edition 1

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Long before Europeans came to America, the Aztecs created a unique culture based on myth and a love of language. Myths and poems were an important part of their culture, and a successful speech by a royal orator was pronounced "a great scattering of jades." A Scattering of Jades is an anthology of the best of Aztec literature, compiled by a noted anthropologist and a skilled translator of Nahuatl. It is a storehouse of myths, narratives, poems, and proverbs—as well as prayers and songs to the Aztec gods that provide insight into how these people's perception of the cosmos drove their military machine. Featuring a translation of the Mexicayotl—a work as important today for Mexico's concept of nationhood and ideology as it was at the time of the Conquest—these selections eloquently depict the everyday life of this ancient people and their unique worldview. A Scattering of Jades is an unsurpassed window on ancient Mesoamerican civilization and an essential companion for anyone studying Aztec history, religion, or culture.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816523375
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 271
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Timothy J. Knab is the author of A War of Witches: A Journey into the Underworld of the Contemporary Aztecs.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 13
The Aztec World of Ancient Mexico 15
Mesoamerican Origins 17
The Toltecs 18
The Gods 19
The Aztec Quest 21
Founding the Center of the Aztec World: Tenochtitlan 23
The Empire 26
Tenochtitlan 29
The Conquest 32
The Spiritual Conquest and the Preservation of Classic Aztec Culture 36
"A Polished Eye": Understanding the Aztec World 39
Human Sacrifice 40
The Balance of Life 42
Women in Aztec Society 43
The Warrior's World 44
Contradictions of the Aztec World 45
World-Centering 46
Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli 47
A Scattering of Jades: Classic Aztec Literature 48
Translating the Aztec World: Thelma D. Sullivan 51
Form and Style in Aztec Literature 53
I The Aztec World 59
1 The Ancient Suns of Mexico and Quetzalcoatl
2 The Finding and Founding of Mexico-Tenochtitlan
3 The Conquest of Mexico: the Words of the Conquered
II Life and Death in Ancient Mexico: The Orations of the Elders 107
1 A Necklace of Jades
2 O Precious Necklace, O Quetzal Feather!
III Prayers and Songs of the Gods 149
1 A Prayer to Tlaloc 151
2 The Songs of Ancient Mexico 160
3 The Songs of the Gods: Ten Prayers of the Primeros Memoriales 164
IV Words of Jade: Proverbs, Metaphors, and Conundrums 181
1 Nahuatl Proverbs, Conundrums, and Metaphors, Collected by Sahagun 183
2 The Metaphors from the Orations of Fray Andres de Olmos 225
Abbreviations 233
Sources and Readings 234
Index 263
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