Aztec Sacrifice (14th to 16th century AD)

Aztec Sacrifice (14th to 16th century AD)

Who were the Aztecs? Why was human sacrifice so important and central among the Aztecs?

In almost every corner of the world, human sacrifices based on religion did happen at some point in history. The most treasured thing for any human is his life and it is the most valuable sacrifice to offer to God. And the Aztec people brought human sacrifice to a whole lot different level.

Image source- Britannica

Aztecs were a Pre-Columbian civilization living in today’s central Mexico. Aztecs were complicated people with advanced social life. Aztec culture involved human sacrifice. The evidence indicates that Aztecs may have been murdering as many as 20,000 victims a year.  

Ritual sacrifice was central to the lives of Aztecs. The concept of blood sacrifice was the core of their traditions and beliefs. They believed that people should pay every day to God otherwise Sun will not rise. They had a view that every blood drops slowly give Sun the strength to rise again each and every day.

Individual bloodletting became a daily routine for the Aztecs. For sacrifice, they ignored the gender or social status of the victim. They were regularly sacrificed in private and in public. They used to sacrifice animals including butterflies and hummingbirds also.

The community was driven together because of human sacrifice. Aztec warriors never killed their opponents, they used to capture them for sacrifice. It was believed that many of their wars were motivated to gather the victims for sacrifice. The whole process of sacrifice was done with rituals.

There were many different sacrificial rituals like drowning, burning, starvation etc . and the ritual for every sacrifice was different.

One of the rituals was removing the heart from the victim’s body. It was offered to the sun or eaten by the high priest. The victim was considered as a person chosen by the deity and treated as high by the other people. The ripped heart was held up high for the people to see. At the centre of the Aztecs, there was a Great Temple which was an impressive pyramid. The temple had two shrines at the top, one for God of rain and the other for God of war.

Image source- Quartz

During sacrifice when the heart was ripped out which was still beating, the lifeless body was thrown down the stairs. The head of the sacrifice was then put on the skull racks at the base of the temple. This ritual shows the story between the God of war and the God of the sun.

There was another ritual where prisoners of war dressed like a deity and were later sacrificed. Their hearts are cut out and their skin was removed. Their skin was then worn by the priest.

These traditions went on for 100 years. It was destroyed by the Spanish invasion. This leads to the decline of the Aztecs empire.

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