Examine the fascinating and often controversial details of the daily lives of the ancient Aztecs through this innovative study written from the perspective of the history of religions. The Aztec people come to life for students, teachers, and interested readers through the exploration of the ceremonial character of their social and symbolic imagination. Insights into the communities they created, the games they played, the education they received, the foods they harvested, and the songs they sang, as well as the sacrificial rituals they performed, enable the reader to gain a better understanding of this complicated culture.
The Aztecs organized their society as a microcosm of the cosmos that intricately linked all aspects of their daily lives to the natural and supernatural world. Carrasco explores the details of the Aztecs' lives and provides an in-depth look at all of these connections to help the reader comprehend the complexity of this ancient culture: The Aztec calendar, Aztec religion and myths, Aztec marketplace, Aztec art and architecture, Aztec war, and autosacrifice and sacrifice are just some topics among the vast number that are colorfully presented. Actual Aztec poems and riddles scattered throughout the text, provide an even deeper understanding of their world view. Carrasco also examines the Aztecs' violent encounter with Europeans and illustrates the long-term significance of colonialism and Aztec culture reflected in modern-day Mexican and Mexican American imaginations.
About the Author
Davíd Carrasco is a Mexican-American historian of religions whose work on Aztec cosmology, cities, and ritual has forged new directions in the study of Mesoamerican cultures.
Scott Sessions is managing editor of the African-American Religion Documentary History Project and visiting lecturer in the religion department at Amherst College, Amherst, MA.
Table of Contents
Chronology of Central Mexico xi
1 Cemanahuac: The Land Surrounded by Water 1
2 The Worldview of Balance: The Cosmic Tree and the Four Quarters 41
3 Mountains of Water: Tenochtitlan and Aztec Communities 71
4 Education and the Aztec Life Cycle: From Birth to Death and Beyond 97
5 The Social Pyramid: Maintaining Your Place and the World 133
6 Aztec Aesthetics: Flowers and Songs 167
7 Where the Jaguars Roar: Aztec Human Sacrifice as Debt Payment 191
8 The Two Tongues: The Aztecs Encounter the Europeans 217
9 The Long Event of Aztec Culture 239
Selected Bibliography 275