Aztec (Mexica) art

The Aztecs called themselves the Mexica—the root of the name for today's Mexico.

1325-1521 C.E.

Beginner's guide

Learn about the language, origins, politics, religion, calendar, and art of the Mexica.

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The House of the Eagles, and sculptures of Mictlantecuhtli and Eagle Warrior
The House of the Eagles, and sculptures of Mictlantecuhtli and Eagle Warrior

Life-size terracotta sculptures of the god of the underworld and eagle warriors were found in the House of the Eagles in the sacred precinct of the Aztec (Mexica) capital of Tenochtitlan

Pottery vessel, Mixteca-Puebla style
Pottery vessel, Mixteca-Puebla style

Cholula was known for its beautiful polychrome ceramics that included a wide range of symbols such as calendrical dates, hearts, hands, and knives

Wooden slit-drum (teponaztli)
Wooden slit-drum (teponaztli)

Mexica wooden slit drums (teponaztli) were generally decorated with designs in relief or carved to represent human figures or animals.

Turquoise mosaics, an introduction
Turquoise mosaics, an introduction

Ancient Mexico is renowned for the production of vivid greenstone mosaics

Serpents in Mexica culture
Serpents in Mexica culture

The serpent played a very important role in Mexica religion and many finely carved stone sculptures have survived.

Xiuhcoatl (fire serpent)
Xiuhcoatl (fire serpent)

This magnificent sculpture of a Xiuhcoatl (fire serpent) has a blend of both realistic and mythical creatures.

Seated figure of Xiuhtecuhtli
Seated figure of Xiuhtecuhtli

The cult of the fire god Xiuhtecuhtli goes back many centuries before Mexica times and extended throughout Mesoamerica.

Xochipilli
Xochipilli

Xochipilli was the Mexica god of music and dance

Pottery model temples
Pottery model temples

Small pottery temple models add valuable details to our knowledge of Mexica religious architecture

Brazier of Chicomecoatl
Brazier of Chicomecoatl

An elaborate Aztec brazier of Chicomecoatl was used to burn offerings to the gods

Aztec art and feasts for the dead
Aztec art and feasts for the dead

In 1520, smallpox raged among the Mexica during the month of Tepeilhuitl when they would normally be making and eating sacred art made of dough.

The Mesoamerican Calendar
The Mesoamerican Calendar

Calendars also tell us a great deal about how Mesoamerican cultures understood and structured their world.

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