Bonds of Blood: Gender, Lifecycle, and Sacrifice in Aztec by Caroline Dodds Pennock

By Caroline Dodds Pennock

The historical past of the Aztecs has been haunted by way of the spectre of human sacrifice. As bloody monks and brutal warriors, the Aztecs have peopled the pages of historical past, fantasy and fiction, their outstanding violence dominating perceptions in their tradition and casting a veil over their distinctive lifestyle. Reinvesting the Aztecs with a humanity usually denied to them, and exploring their non secular violence as a understandable section of lifestyles and lifestyles, Caroline Dodds Pennock integrates a clean interpretation of gender with an leading edge examine of the typical lifetime of the Aztecs. This was once a tradition of contradictions and problems, yet in among the grand ritual we will locate the non-public and personal, the trivialities of lifestyles which make the realm of those notable humans immediately customary. regardless of their violent bloodshed, the Aztecs have been a compassionate and expressive those who lived and labored in cooperative gendered partnership.

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Additional info for Bonds of Blood: Gender, Lifecycle, and Sacrifice in Aztec Culture (Early Modern History: Society and Culture)

Sample text

The relationship between captor and captive was extremely intimate and one which was promoted by a system of sacrifice in which the prestige of a warrior was located in the valour of his captive. After being seized in battle, a captive retained a close relationship with his captor. On the day of the captive’s death, the warrior would accompany him to the sacrificial stone, delivering the prisoner to the place of his death. Having witnessed the sacrifice, the warrior then returned home with the body following the ceremony, a portion of which was sent to the emperor and the remainder consumed in ceremonial cannibalism by the captor’s family and friends.

The most famous exponent of this tradition is Frazer, who wrote: ‘Thus the ceaseless wars of the Mexicans and their cruel system of human sacrifices, the most monstrous on record, sprang in great measure from a mistaken theory of the solar system. ’55 Rituals are comprehensible only within their own context, and it is vital to understand that death on the stone was an honourable, even a desirable, fate. For not only the Aztecs, but also their foes, sacrifice ensured perpetual glory and spiritual survival.

Slaves could marry freely, to another slave or a free person, and their children were born free. 14 Slavery could be a punishment, but many were ‘voluntary slaves’, lazy, tired, poor or in debt, who sold themselves for a fixed sum, which they had the right to spend before undertaking their servitude. A family, or group of families, might even sell a member into slavery and take turns at sharing the burden for a number of years. Slavery was not perpetual – emperors frequently performed mass manumissions at times of celebration, and masters often freed their slaves in their wills.

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