Aztec Culture


The Aztec culture was a Mesoamerican people that settled in central Mexico during the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. It was a civilization with a rich cultural heritage whose capital, Tenochtitlan , rivaled the largest cities in Europe in size and grandeur. They were characterized by the realization of human sacrifices , commerce and tax administration.


What is the Aztec culture?

The Aztec culture was a Mesoamerican group located in Mexico , as they were the ones who founded it, which was characterized by a series of mythological and religious traditions , including ritual practices that involved human sacrifice cannibalism and slavery.



The Aztec culture was a culture full of complex mythological and religious traditions . Probably the most alarming aspect of Aztec culture was the practice of human sacrifice , which was known throughout Mesoamerica before the Spanish conquest . As a hegemonic power, the Aztecs sacrificed human beings on a large scale in bloody religious rituals , enslaved subject peoples and, according to Spanish accounts, practiced cannibalism . The Spanish invaders, led by Hernán Cortés , claimed the new lands and resources for the Spanish Crown and enacted theChristianity , demanding that local native allies eliminate human sacrifice and cannibalism. Some Aztecs also anticipated the return of the white-skinned god Quetzalcoatl from the east, an expectation that may have contributed to the success of the militarily outgunned Spanish forces.


Characteristics of the Aztec culture

Among the most outstanding characteristics of the Aztec culture are:

  • They were very good at administration.
  • Its territory was divided into 38 tributary provinces.
  • They used pyramidal stratification.
  • The nobles and priests were the main figures.
  • They spoke a language known as Nahuatl.
  • They used pictograms, ideograms, and phonetic signs.
  • The emperor had unlimited power.
  • They used slaves for heavy work


In the religious aspect they had a large number of gods . They used human sacrifices in religious festivals celebrated based on the Aztec calendar . Each god had its own temple and they divided the world into a higher and a lower one , each with its own god and astronomical objects . They gave importance to the sun , the moon and Venus .


In his pantheon of gods, there were, for example, Tlaloc , Quetzalcóatl and Tezcatlipoca , who were greatly venerated. Tlaloc was very important as he was the god of rain . Huitzilopochtli was the “patron god of the Mexica tribe”; the god Quetzalcóatl, the hero of Mexican culture and the god of civilization and order ; and Tezcatlipoca the god of destiny and fortune , and was closely connected with war and sorcery .

They also had natural gods, such as:

  • Tlaltecuhtli : means “Lord of the Earth”, the goddess of the Earth.
  • Chalchiuhtlicue : means “she has Jade on her skirt”, she was the marine goddess, of the lakes, seas and springs.
  • Centzon Huitznahua : means “The 400 inhabitants of the south”, gods of the stars.

Gods of creation such as:

  • Ometeotl – Ometecutli – Tonacacihuatl: He was the god of duality or the “creator god”.
  • Huehuetéotl : means “Old God”, god of origin, time, fire and old age.
  • Coatlicue – Toci: they were the female progenitor goddesses.

Gods of corn and fertility:

  • Cinteotl : He was the God of corn.
  • Xilonen – Chicomecoatl: Goddess of young corn.
  • Xochipilli : means “prince flower”, god of happiness, flowers, pleasure and fertility.

Gods of death and the underworld;

  • Mictlantecutli : Lord of the underworld.
  • Mictlancihuatl : she was the queen of the underworld.
  • Xólotl : God of spirits and evening venus who guides the dead on their journey


The agriculture was based on the cultivation of corn , beans , tomato , snuff , etc. They harvested cocoa to make chocolate and fermented the juices . Through the cultivation of plants they supplied themselves with food and the tribes administered the lands they harvested.

Cultural manifestations of the Aztec culture


They were very good at making sculptures of different sizes in which they captured religious and nature themes . They also represented gods and kings , animals and objects of common use. They used stone and wood, decorating it with colored paints and precious stones . They succeeded in melting gold with silver.


Its architecture was monumental and its purpose was to manifest religious power and beliefs . Temples, palaces, and houses were built for the village gods. Tenochtitlán was the symbol of Aztec power. The architecture had a wide sense of order and symmetry , they built walls, squares and platforms. The Templo Mayor and the Tlatelolco market were two of its main constructions.


The sculpture was made of stone , from those of volcanic origin to precious stones such as jade. They recorded large images of gods to be displayed in temples and public spaces . It was a means to communicate the different concepts related to the Aztec religion and they were also part of rituals . The divine figures were shown in a frontal and symmetrical plane , the female figures were usually found with their knees up and their arms crossed, with serious expressions that highlighted the feminine and masculine beauty.. His tools were made of simple stone and wood .


Pottery from the Aztec culture consisted of well-fired, thin-walled objects, and most were orange in color. Were biconical cups that were shaped like a chalice for the elderly to drink pulque , a drink strong alcohol made from fermented maguey juice. The ceramic decoration was made based on black lines and was geometric , then birds, animals and floral motifs were added. Mixtec polychrome pottery was one of the most important Aztec ceramics.


The language spoken by the Aztecs is known as Nahuatl . This language is a binding language , so words and phrases are formed by combining prefixes , suffixes, and roots to form an idea. Years later, another type of language known as Nahuan was included, which was spoken by the peoples of the area.

Customs and traditions of the Aztec culture

The history of Aztec customs and traditions began with the founding of Tenochtitlán in 1325. Aztec daily life focused on work and worship . Children had to be educated and children over a certain age were sent to schools where they received military education . Men were in charge of outdoor tasks such as commerce and shopping , while women were responsible for the domestic part , although some women also allowed themselves to do outdoor activities. Aztec customs were a set of rituals , prayers andreligious cults . The religion in the Aztec empire was very important and therefore almost all aspects of life were inspired and influenced by it. The prayer was a daily activity and was performed by priests and others. Each house had a shrine to pray. The fast also was part of Aztec religious culture. They were polytheists , they used psychoactive drugs , singing and dancing .

Political and social organization

They worked based on tributes and these were fixed with the resources of each region. These tax burdens were imposed by an organization called Triple Alianza . The great orator and chief of men Huey Tlatoani , was the one who was in command of the structure of the people , of the military , civil and religious power . They had a council that was the one that made political , military and administrative decisions .

Economy of Aztec culture

Its economy was based on agricultural activities and on a product exchange network that extended throughout the entire Aztec empire.

Main cities

Some of its main cities are mentioned below:

  • Tenochtitlán, which was the capital of the Aztec empire.
  • Texcoco
  • Tlacopan
  • Mazatlan
  • Tochtlan
  • Ixtapan


The Aztec culture was established in the central valley of Mexico . The area where they were located was swampy and surrounded by irregular mountains. It was a very dry place and they established their capital in the city of Tenochtitlán , southwest of Lake Texcoco.

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