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 Mesoamerican Calendar
The Mesoamerican Calendar

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

Remembering the Toxcatl Massacre: The Beginning of the End of Aztec Supremacy
Remembering the Toxcatl Massacre: The Beginning of the End of Aztec Supremacy

A manuscript tells the Indigenous side of a historic battle in Aztec Tenochtitlan.

Painting Aztec History
Painting Aztec History

Although viewership changed, the Aztecs’ painted language did not cease with Spanish intervention.

Eagle Warrior (Mexica)
Eagle Warrior (Mexica)

The goal of the eagle warrior was to capture the greatest number of captives, who would then be sacrificed to the Mexica gods. All warriors rose in rank according to the number of captives they acquired.

Introduction to the Aztecs (Mexica)
Introduction to the Aztecs (Mexica)

The Mexica people formed their capital when they saw the sign they had been promised: an eagle perched on a cactus.

Codex Borgia
Codex Borgia

Thirty-three feet long, the Codex Borgia records historical, ritual, mythological, and botanical information.

<em>Monolith of Tlaltecuhtli (Earth Lord)</em>
Monolith of Tlaltecuhtli (Earth Lord)

Capable of being male or female, the Earth Lord Tlaltecuhtli is shown here as a woman who has given birth.

Stone kneeling figure of Chalchiuhtlicue
Stone kneeling figure of Chalchiuhtlicue

This Mexica water goddess was believed to have presided over the fourth, or most recent, sun.

Serpent mask of Quetzalcoatl or Tlaloc
Serpent mask of Quetzalcoatl or Tlaloc

Identifying which god this mask represents has proven a slippery task.

Mosaic mask of Tezcatlipoca
Mosaic mask of Tezcatlipoca

The turquoise, shell and other materials used on this mask were collected from the far reaches of the Aztec empire.

Double-headed serpent
Double-headed serpent

Snakes shedding their skin was a powerful metaphor for the Aztecs and is reflected in their pantheon of gods.

More on the Aztecs (Mexica)
More on the Aztecs (Mexica)

During the twelfth century C.E. the Aztec (or Mexica*) were a small and obscure tribe searching for a new homeland.

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