Mixtec Multure


The Mixtec culture is an indigenous population of Central America that lives in the northern and western sections of the state of Oaxaca in Mexico and in the neighboring parts of the states of Guerrero and Puebla in the south of the country. Historically, the Mixtecs possessed a high degree of civilization in Aztec and pre-Aztec times.


What is Mixtec culture?

This culture has been one of the most important in Mesoamerica, distinguished for its continuity in history and for being a source of pre-Columbian art and for being recognized as one of the largest regions with historical depth.


Characteristics of Mixtec culture

The main characteristics of the Mixtec culture are the following:

  • The most important part of its economy was agriculture .
  • They were conquered by the Aztecs at the end of the pre-Columbian period.
  • The governor was the most important part of society.
  • They had hereditary elites .
  • They made necklaces with precious stones, bracelets and rings.
  • His calendar was based on a 52-year cycle.

Political and social organization

The peoples of the Mixtec culture were grouped into villages . Society was also made up of hierarchies and the main part of them was the chief and the governors of each of the regions that made up the culture.

Among its settlers were the nobles who were in charge of the administration of the villages, then, in a lower step were the peasants and artisans ; and on the last step were servants and slaves.

His organization also established lordships in the regions and maintained a good dialogue with other cultures, even establishing different military alliances between them that included matrimonial activities and commercial pacts, exchanges of materials and food. It was based then, on commercial and military exchange .


Its main economic base was agriculture . The main grains that they used to sow were corn, chili , beans, squash, cocoa and cotton. They practiced, although on a smaller scale , fishing , gathering fruits and hunting . The livestock was also part of its economy.

Cultural manifestations

  • Metallurgy : they worked with great care the gold because for them it came from the gods. The Mixtec culture is considered the forerunner of metallurgy in Mesoamerica, in addition they worked copper, bones and ceramics.
  • Ceramic: it was polychromatic and they preferred colors such as orange, black and red. They used cochineal to create the colors, which is a deep red insect. They made pots, plates and cups, and also decorated their ceramics with animals, bones and flowers.
  • Writing : their writing is logographic and pictographic , and through it they recorded historical events and pre-Columbian myths. These writings were known by the name of codices and they were written on the skin of deer or on tree bark. Among the best known codices are the Bodley (located at the University of Oxford), the Zouche Nuttal codex (expresses genealogies and military alliances), and the Vindobonensis Mexicanus codex or Vienna codex.
  • Medicine : doctors treated diseases with plants and natural remedies and believed that their origin was a consequence of leading a life with little morals or improper, and that it was a punishment from the gods.

Mixtec culture religion

Mixtec culture was polytheistic so they had different gods, all of them animists . The god of rain and water , the god of fertility and hunting were worshiped . They made offerings in caves and their main sanctuary was called Apoala . They made sacrifices bird, human sacrifice and self – sacrifice.

Their religious and festive rituals lasted for days and included a series of dances and meals. They celebrated the day of the dead , a holiday that is still celebrated in Mexico .

Customs and traditions of the Mixtec culture

Among its customs and traditions we can mention:

  • They used to transfer the land from father to son.
  • They based their diet on corn and a subsistence economy .
  • They thought that inanimate things had souls.
  • The relationships are considered important and think that society determines the behavior of its inhabitants.
  • The festivities are important to them and being appointed steward is one of their greatest privileges.


They created a writing system and their language was quite complex . It was known as ” Eudzahui “, a word whose meaning is “the people of the rain . ” His verbal and graphic expression allowed him to advance in history and write manuscripts , thanks to which, today we can study about his history.


Their main food source was beans , corn, and squash . Most of their food resources came from their environment as they were dedicated to agriculture , gathering plants and hunting animals. After the 16th century, they added sugar cane, lime, banana, broad bean, and wheat to their diet.


The women used a blanket blouse and petticoats made of cotton which had snail extract. Nowadays they wear clothes made of poplin with flower prints and adorned with colored ribbons . They also use paper necklaces of different colors. Before, they used to walk barefoot , but today they wear sandals .

Men used shirts and pants of blanket made of woven fabric by hand, using what is known as ” cotón ” hats wool or palm brimmed and huaraches skin.


The Mixtec culture was located in the southern part of Mexico where we currently find Oaxaca , Guerrero and Puebla , mainly in the mountains and valley of the region.

Important cities of Mixtec culture

The: divided into three major areas Mixteca Baja , the Mixteca and Mixtec from the coast . The centers or cities were small villages located near fertile lands for their agricultural activities.

Ceremonial centers

The most important ceremonial centers of Mixtec culture are found in cities such as Tilantongo and Milta. In them you can find ornaments, vessels and structures with pictograms that tell their story. The main centers are:

  • Mitla : known as “the place of death”, located on Mount Alban and where there are important palaces and temples .
  • Tilantongo :  an important political center of the Mixtecs, it also had an important ceremonial center and was the place where the chief Ocho Venado , one of the most important, was born.
  • Tututepec : It was founded to establish a strategic alliance with the Chichimeca Toltecs. It was one of the most important imperial capitals and was characterized by its archaeological wealth.

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