Looking for a complete introduction to Aztec Mythology in just a few minutes? You’ve come to the right place! Read on !
What myths were Aztecs?
Like all peoples, the Aztecs felt compelled to explain the important phenomena that occurred in their environment, beginning with their origins and their place in the universe. They invented stories of their cosmos to help them determine what was important.
These beliefs formed the framework of their religion. For the ancient peoples of Mesoamerica, these stories that we consider “myths” had the same function as science and/or the Christian religion in today’s western society, and as any religion or belief system in any part of the world: they gave life a conceptual structure for understanding the mysteries of the universe.
You will not forget to read the legend of the creation of the various suns and of Yappan.
The gods of Aztec mythology
No one knows exactly how many gods the Aztecs, a very religious people, worshipped when they settled in Tenochtitlan in what is now Mexico City. Besides their own gods, the Aztecs adopted all the deities of the conquered peoples. For some phenomena, there were several similar gods whose attributions are still very badly known.
These gods, innumerable, monstrous in their representation, great lovers of blood, offended the sensibility and the faith of the Conquistadores who were determined to destroy, and to burn any trace of the pre-Columbian past. Archbishop Juan de Zumarraga alone had tens of thousands of works of art and precious codices burned or destroyed.
The Aztec Religion
Religion penetrated almost every aspect of Mesoamerican life, and cosmology was inseparable from religious concepts. From the earliest times, religious themes acquired great importance, with ritual symbolism manifested in art and architecture.
The first physical expressions of religious practices appeared among the Olmecs of the south-central Gulf Coast, and soon after in the central and southern highlands. There were ceremonial centers with elaborate architecture, all kinds of figurines and symbols on pottery, and engraved stone stelae.
The nature of the worship practiced in these early ceremonial precincts is not precisely known, but many deities have been identified.
Mesoamerican religion is broken down into several themes, detailed in the pages and alphabetical entries of this section.
These include the concept of duality; death and the afterlife; a pantheon of gods and goddesses with different characters, functions and manifestations depending on the occasion; sacrifices (animal, human and self-immolations); the cyclical character of time; and the development of the episodes of creation.