Almost every ancient civilization had legends about how their gods created the world and people. Also, some early cultures had books of genesis, like old Greeks had Theogony written by poet Hesiod. There were, also, different views on how gods made humans. Old Sumerians believed their gods made them from the clay, as is the same for ancient Egyptians. In this article, we shall tell the old story about how Aztec gods created the world and humanity.
Firstly, we have to introduce the empire of Aztecs. They were pre-Colombian people who lived in Central Mexico and are similar to Mayan people. They were especially dominant in the 15th and at the beginning of the 16th century. Their largest city Tenochtitlan (today’s Mexico City) was founded in 1325. The Aztec empire lasted until Spanish conquistadores came to Central America. Their last ruler Cuauhtemoc was unable to fight Spanish soldiers, and Hernan Cortes captured Tenochtitlan in 1521. Probably the most popular ruler of the Aztec realm was Montezuma the Second (1502-1520).
Image of Hernan Cortes, a man who conquered the Aztec Empire
Aztecs we all know from history books lived in their so-called fifth world. Previous four are mythological eras which they believed happened in some long passed times before their real world was created. All these worlds were destroyed by the gods, so Aztecs lived in fear not to anger them in order to save their realm from extermination. The fifth world was created by the two gods who were brothers. Their names were Quetzalcoatl, the feathered snake and Tezcatlipoca, the smoking mirror. Firstly, the sky and the earth were created, but without light. The question who is going to become the Sun was raised between the gods, who gathered in Teotihuacan – the city of the gods. God Nanahuatzin decided to sacrifice himself by throwing into the fire so he could shine like the Sun. The new Sun did not move in the sky so its heat was unbearable for the gods below. More sacrifices had to be done. Quetzalcoatl ripped the hearts of gods and offered to the Sun god. Finally, the big star started to circle around the planet. Many modern scholars believe this story is the reason why Aztecs sacrificed humans often to their deities.
Relief of the god Quetzalcoatl
All people from the fourth world were destroyed and transformed into fish. Their bones were put in hell where god Mictlantecuhtli reigns. Quetzalcoatl went to the underworld to collect human bones and bring them up from the hell. The last ingredient for making humans was the blood of the gods. In the end, the gods mixed their blood with the dust of shattered bones and from that mixture people were born. The gods gave them the corn to feed on it. Nanahuatzin spread the corn seed across the land so all can use this plant. The rest of the seeds were taken by Tlaloc, the god of rain, who dibble it in the fields.
Macabre representation of the god Mictlantecuhtli
Nowadays, we can see the traces of the old ways of living among the population in the state of Mexico. Spaniards had not destroyed all that Aztecs created, pyramids and old temples can be seen in today’s regions of Mexico. All we can do is to pay homage to Aztec people and the way they see the world, and always remember the fallen ones who fought against the invaders from Europe.
A solemn moment of Nanahuatzin’s sacrifice
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