Aztecs were as devoted to their arts as they were to their religion, which is inextricably linked; like lovers. Both depict their devotion to their gods in their artwork, which ranges from massive stone sculptures to paintings to exquisitely carved gemstone insects.
Others were involved in the great trading networks, while the Aztec population may have focused their lives on agriculture to keep the entire empire fed. The majority of these trades are for creating artworks and pieces, particularly because they are well known for their metalwork skills. Examples of their nobles' artistic creativity can also be seen in their jewelry, such as earrings and labrets. The majority of it is embellished with jade, greenstone, corals, or obsidian turquoise. Workers created colorful tilmatli for the emperor and nobles to wear. They have also created ceremonial costumes for the most powerful warrior castes and priests, as well as intricately decorated shields and headdresses.
Aztec families devoted their lives to the creation of artwork for Aztec nobles and the majority of their Emperors are rewarded with artwork as a form of homage.
Unfortunately, as with most other Aztec Arts, these objects were melted down for currency, leaving only a few examples of the Aztecs' fine metalwork and gold and silver skills.
Despite the fact that the Aztec Civilization was destroyed during the Spanish conquest of Mexico during the Mesoamerican Era, some Aztec Arts, particularly their sculptures, have survived to this day. Some Aztec artists, in fact, continue to study their distinct art forms, great talent, and artistic techniques.
Here are some of the Aztec Arts masterpieces and their use during their civilization.
Stone Of Tizoc
Tizoc Stone, an Aztec artifact, is one of the most important and impressive carved Aztec arts. It is a massive basalt cylinder-shaped stone with a diameter of 2660 mm and a height of 880 mm. It has a sun image on top and 15 pairs of warrior figures around the sides, which are interspersed with earth and sky decorations. It was also said to have been built to commemorate Tizoc's reign and victory over other tribes. While Tizoc's image appears on the stone fifteen times, implying his power and importance, Tizoc failed as a ruler and military strategist in real life.
The stone was said to have been used as a receptacle for the hearts of Sacrificial Victims during sacrificial ceremonies or as a platform for fighting contests, which were a common ritual in Aztec Sacrifices. A single victim was pitted against a squad of hand-picked warriors or knights during these grueling exercises. The victim, of course, will not survive or even injure his opponents because he was not only tied to the circular stone platform, but his weapon was usually a feathered club, whereas his opponents had razor-sharp obsidian swords. It was a stunning piece of Aztec art and one of the Aztecs' masterpieces, but it is still used for human sacrifices today.
Tizoc Stone was discovered in the 17th century beneath Mexico City's Plaza de la Constitucion and is now housed in the National Museum of Anthropology.
Piedra del Sol or Calendar Stone
One of the Aztec Arts masterpieces is the Calendar Stone, also known as the Sun Stone. A single piece of porphyry was used to carve this massive 24-ton basalt calendar stone. All of its symbols are related to the Sun, and its significance in Aztec belief and religion has been buried. It was rediscovered in 1790, a few decades after the conquest, and mounted on one of the Cathedral Metropolitan's towers, where it remained until 1885.
Although the 20 days of the 260-day calendar appear on this carved stone, it is not functioning as their calendar but as a carved solar disk which for the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican cultures represented rulership. Some also said that it may have been a sacrificial altar known as Eagle Vessel by the Aztecs. The face of their solar deity, Tonatiuh, is one of the features of the stone. Some scholars studying the monument believe that the central face is not Tonatiuh, but the earth monster Tlaltecuhtli. This argument is based on representations of the deities in other works, as well as the role of the sunstone in a sacrificial context, which involves the action of deities and humans to maintain the cycle of time.
The Aztec Arts were influenced by these people's obsession with astronomy. The Aztecs most likely tried to defy and combat the forces that thought the eclipse would destroy the sun, proving that the argument that it was used for sacrificial ceremonies was correct.
Today, the sunstone image is displayed in the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City and is perhaps the most famous work of Mexica Sculpture.
Statue of Coatlicue
The statue of this Aztec Art Goddess, Coatlicue (serpent skirt), who was believed to be the symbol of the earth as both creator and destroyer, mother of the gods and mortals, is one of the surviving Aztec arts or sculptures. It stands up to 8.3 feet tall and was most likely designed to make those in its presence feel small in comparison to the Goddess's tremendous power. She is a mother figure that could show both love and fear unpredictably.
Numerous snakes appear to writhe across the surface of the sculpture, as well as snakes from her entire skirt, belt, and even her head. Her clothing helps to identify her because her name literally means Serpent Skirt.
This Aztec art was created during the Aztec rule and once stood in a prominent location near Tenochtitlan, the great capital. Following the conquest, Coatlicue was deemed a "pagan idol" and was buried beneath the earth by the Spaniards who suppressed prehispanic religion in order to replace it with Christianity.
The Statue of Coatlicue, along with the two previously mentioned Aztec Arts and Sculptures, is now housed in Mexico City's National Museum of Anthropology.
These Aztec arts that have survived to this day are very beautiful, and we can see how artistic the Aztec people were, but we cannot change the fact that these beautiful and massive sculptures were once used to threaten or intimidate their own people, or even for their rites in human sacrifices.