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The Aztec god of seeds, Xipe Totec (ca 1500 AD)

The Aztec god of seeds, Xipe Totec (ca 1500 AD)

Who were the Aztec gods?

Aztec people were polytheistic – they had many gods. That’s the same as like the people of ChinaIndia, or Africa at this time.

Who were the Aztec?
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Aztec nature gods

Many of the Aztec gods were parts of nature. Coatlicue was the god of creation. Xipe Totec was the seeds to be planted, that would grow into food (like Persephone for the Greeks).

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Native American religion

Tlaloc was the god of rain (like Cheng-huangin China or Demeter for the Greeks). He had a companion Chalchiuhtlicue, the god of water. They worked with Chicomicoatl, who was the god of actually producing food.

Central American food
And the environment
History of corn
The Three Sisters

Aztec gods of abstract concepts

Huitzilopochtli, the god of war (Now in Quai Branly Museum, Paris)

Huitzilopochtli, the god of war (Now in Quai Branly Museum, Paris)

Other Aztec gods represented ideas. Huitzilopochtil, for instance, was the god of war (like Ares or the Egyptian god Horus). But Huitzilopochtil was also a sun god, like Apollo. Quetzalcoatl was less important than Huitzilopochtil, but he was the god of civilization. He was also the god of wind, like the Egyptian god Amon.

Quetzalcoatl’s brother was Tezcatlipoca, the god of wars that were fought at night (when Huitzilopochtil was resting). There were many more gods who were just the god of one small village or one particular place. Religious holidays happened according to calendars based on astronomical observations.

Aztec people built big stone temples for their gods, and sometimes killed people – probably usually prisoners of war but sometimes enslaved people – in human sacrifices to their gods.

Aztec stone temples
What is a sacrifice?

They also prayed to their gods at smaller shrines in their houses and stores, and at sacred places like waterfalls and caves.

Learn by doing: making guacamole
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More about the Aztec people

Bibliography and further reading about Aztec religion:


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