The Aztec might have been great civilisation with rich culture and beautiful art or even great empire, but for the many people they conjure up an image of atrociously violence and blood life-sacrifices. Indeed , what they left behind them could not be dismissed as something ordinary, it was massive massacre tantamount to the violence of world war II or even beyond.
As a mother of fact, it was estimated that around 20 000 people were sacrificed each year , some voluntarily ,others driven by force. The place where the so-called ‘rituals’took place were the massive temples ,most important of which was the Templo Mayor placed in the capital of the Empire –Tenochtitlan. The most disturbing thing relating the whole chains of the rituals was not the idea of sacrifice itself, as many other civilisations used that method, but the very core of the meaning of that ritual for the Aztec’s people. For the Europeans and for the Spanish conquistadors was unimaginably inconceivable to comprehend the beliefs behind which stands that inhumane practices. For the Aztecs the world was created by gods , they were powerful and needed to be pleased , therefore the best way of doing so was to sacrifice your life. For them , it was almost point of honour to do so, as not only to appease and praise the Gods ,but to be chosen for that purpose.
The most common bloody rituals was known as the heart sacrifice , which practice involved ripping the heart of person still alive and giving the beating heart to the Gods. After the heart is being torn out of someone’s chest ,his body was thrown away down the temple, where someone would cut the victim’s head could be displayed on a skull rack. Very often , parts of the victims ‘s body were eaten by the priests or the most important people within the society, by doing so they believed to be much closer to the gods. From that , it came the so called myth about the cannibalism amoung the Aztec’s society.
The priests were the ones who chose the victims and how often the sacrifice should be performed , they were in plenty in every Aztec ‘s city , for instance it was estimated that in Tenochtitlan alone they were five thousands priests . They painted their bodies in black as a representation of war and religion, to tap it all they poured blood from the victims on their hair.
Another typical ritual was the actual human sacrifice ,which took place in the name of god Huehueteotl- the God of warmth, death and cold – who was responsible for the light in the darkness (probably the stars and the moon in the sky) and for the food in time of famine. The victim was thrown into fire ,then just before reaching the point of dying was taken in with a hook , his heart was removed and put into the fire alone. And yet, the sacrifice was not restricted only to men ,but it was imposed upon women and children . For instance, the Aztecs were on the opinion that the tears of the new-born children were exceptionally priceless and could appease the god of rain ( Tlaloc) and he would in return give them rain.
The brutality of the Aztecs’ rituals could not have revolted the Spanish armies or any other European nation. It’s the difference between the psychological context and the impact of these bloodlettings ,which prevent us from understanding that culture. However, one is truth for sure, every big empire has its flaw and once that flaw is out , nothing could stop it from collapsing.