MESO AMERICAN SLIDES

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Published on February 18, 2008

Author: Tomasina

Source: authorstream.com

MESO-AMERICAN DEITIES:  MESO-AMERICAN DEITIES MAYAN, TOLTEC, AZTEC Slide2:  Huitzilipochtli - specific to Aztecs God of Sun and War Last-born child of Coatlicue, slays siblings Slide3:  Huitzilipochtli Hummingbird-on-the-left (direction of the rising sun) Why a Hummingbird?:  Why a Hummingbird? Hummingbirds are fierce, territorial, seemingly armed in their very anatomy Hummingbirds have a fleeting, intense, constantly changing beauty and metallic sheen Influence of Nature:  Influence of Nature Meso-Americans were keen observers of nature Animals influenced their mythology and art Hummingbird Anna’s 88 Butterfly Xochiquetzal:  Xochiquetzal The battlefield is the place: where one toasts the divine liquor in war, where are stained red the divine eagles, where the jaguars howl, where all kinds of precious stones rain from ornaments, where wave headdresses rich with fine plumes, where princes are smashed to bits. There is nothing like death in war, nothing like the flowery death so precious to Him who gives life: far off I see it: my heart yearns for it. (from Robert Hull, The Ancient World of the Aztecs) :  The battlefield is the place: where one toasts the divine liquor in war, where are stained red the divine eagles, where the jaguars howl, where all kinds of precious stones rain from ornaments, where wave headdresses rich with fine plumes, where princes are smashed to bits. There is nothing like death in war, nothing like the flowery death so precious to Him who gives life: far off I see it: my heart yearns for it. (from Robert Hull, The Ancient World of the Aztecs) WAR POETRY OF THE AZTECS MORE WAR POETRY OF THE AZTECS :  MORE WAR POETRY OF THE AZTECS Death is here among the flowers, in the midst of the plains! Close to the war, When the war begins, In the midst of the plains, The dust rises as if it were smoke, Entangled and twisted round With the flowery strands of death... Be not afraid, my heart! In the midst of the plain My heart craves death By the sharpness of the obsidian blades This is all my heart craves: Death is war... (from Miguel Leon-Portilla Native Mesoamerican Spirituality 218) - note: flower and smoke Logic of Sacrifice (general):  Logic of Sacrifice (general) Sacrifice means, etymologically, “to make sacred;” any thing, being, or person sacrificed has achieved sacred status Sacrifice, in common language use, can mean anything that we give where the giving is not easy, or cheap, such as “sacrificing time to a noble cause.” Essentially, sacrifice is a form of gift-giving. Gift-giving is a way of maintaining relationships (think, Mother’s Day!). You are supposed to give the best quality gift you can because of your respect/love/gratitude for the recipient. Logic of Blood Sacrifice in Ancient Mexico:  Logic of Blood Sacrifice in Ancient Mexico The deities need blood to fuel their on-going creative and sustaining functions. The nobility would engage in auto-sacrifice, a.k.a. bloodletting, since they were at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of power. As more and better sacrifices were sometimes necessary, human sacrifices, particularly of captured enemy warriors (who would have high status in their tribes), came to complement auto-sacrifice. Lady Xoc’s Auto- Sacrifice Ritual (Mayan):  Lady Xoc’s Auto- Sacrifice Ritual (Mayan) Lady Xoc is running a scorpion’s spine over her tongue, and allowing the blood to soak paper (in the basket) which will later be burned Aztec Human Sacrifice:  Aztec Human Sacrifice Tlacaéllel (1397-1487), Chief Advisor to Aztec Emperors:  Tlacaéllel (1397-1487), Chief Advisor to Aztec Emperors He elevated the deity Huitzilipochtli, who was distinct to the Aztecs, to a pre-eminent position. Huitzilipochtli was a god of war, who was at war with other deities (i.e. other tribes) from the moment of his birth. Aztecs allowed conquered cities to continue to worship their own gods, but they had to incorporate Huitzilipochtli as well (a practice similar to the Roman empire). Huitzilipochtli underlined the cosmological importance and unending nature of warfare. He promised rewards to warriors who died in battle, while also demanding high quality (i.e. enemy warrior) human sacrifices. As an incarnation of the sun, whose initial act consisted of dismembering the moon goddess, Huitzilipochtli specifically encouraged a dualism of sun v. forces of night/evil Huitzilipochtli and Tlacaéllel:  Huitzilipochtli and Tlacaéllel Tlacaéllel destroyed previous written records of the Aztecs, to better link them to Huitzilipochtli and the Toltecs Tlacaéllel stressed the need for warfare-in-permanence to provide captives Under Tlacaéllel, religion became increasingly literalistic Slide15:  Shamans to Priests Shamans, by virtue of different abilities, granted by an inaccessible authority, are different from other members of the tribe. Thus, shamanism marks the beginning of (a literal) hierarchy With urban civilizations, hierarchy is complicated by social stratification and job specialization Shamans become priests when job specialization must be regularized, compelled by urban societies which are dependent on (an increasingly alienated) agricultural base. Urban Societies ≠ Shamanism:  Urban Societies ≠ Shamanism The sheer magnitude and anonymity of urban societies dictates a change in the nature of rituals performed Rituals exist to protect society as a whole, rather than addressing individual needs. Priests officiate over rituals that are often scheduled, following a regular calendar. In Meso-American urban cultures (Maya, Toltec, Aztec), order, predictability and regularity were treasured values, so having an orderly, predictable, and regularized ritual calendar reinforced and patterned this desire. Slide17:  in Meso-American culture, there are two other dynamics at play relative lack of animals for game means that a) the hunting function of a shaman atrophies, and b) therefore, instead, the shaman adopts characteristics of beasts of prey, such as jaguar, eagle, hummingbird, etc. 2) The need to maintain and ensure order and regularity calls for specialized study, abstracted from everyday vicissitudes such as illness and disease - e.g. astronomy, calendar, ritual. The result is that the healing function of the shaman reverts to women healers (a.k.a. curanderas), and the priests retain only the formality of ritual, not the as-needed character of healing ritual

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