Aztec Human Sacrifice and Cannibalism Term Paper

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Aztec Human Sacrifice

It may be a startling fact for us to know some of the unusual ways that the people of the olden times lived their lives, particularly with respect to their beliefs, rituals, and practices. The Aztecs, considered as one of the most controversial groups of people that we can find in our history had lived in Mesoamerica. Their practice of human sacrifice and cannibalism, which according to their culture are part of their religion and belief, would make even the historians find it difficult to comprehend the rationales behind such practices. The Aztec practice of human sacrifice can be regarded as a history of violence.

It was estimated that there were approximately 20,000 lives that are being offered and sacrificed by the Aztecs to their gods. To have a continuous supply of human lives as sacrifices, the Aztecs were in constant war with other tribal groups (

The ritual of human sacrifice was being conducted by the Aztecs on a stone table on top of pyramids. There, they would cut out the chest of the victim and rip out the heart. The Spaniards witnessed this gruesome practice when they first came to Tenochtitln, Mexico. The city that they thought was an inspiring one because of the vast white buildings it has soon turned as a place of terror after witnessing the horrific ritual of the Aztecs.

The rationale behind the strange and horrific practice of the Aztecs rooted from their belief in the concept of tonalli or also called as "animating spirit." The tonally, which was believed to live in the blood stream and concentrates in the heart (Pettifor, 1996), is the element why the sun stays in motion.
By sacrificing a human life, the Aztecs believe that they are keeping the sun in motion.

In relation to the Aztec's human sacrifice for the sun was their worship to the war god, soon turned as the god who represents the sun, called Huitzilopochtli. Huitzilopochtli was believed to be pleased with the human sacrifice ritual of the Aztecs, which is the reason why the sun is still in orbit.

In the culture and religious practice of the Aztecs, there were other gods who require different type of sacrifices. From, some of them are the following.

For the fertility god Xipe Totec, the person was tied to a post and shot full of arrows. His blood flowing out represented the cool spring rains (Meyer & Sherman:69).

The fire god required a newly wed couple. They were thrown into the god's altars and allowed to burn and at the last minute they were taken out and had their hearts removed as a second offering (Hogg:48).

The earth mother goddess, Teteoinnan, was extremely important. At harvest time, a female victim was flayed and her skin was carried ceremoniously to one of the temples. Her skin was worn by an officiating priest who then symbolized the goddess herself (Meyer & Sherman:44). Human sacrifices were seen in many different cultures in Latin American, such as Olmecs, Mayans, and the Moche.

Conquering much of the surrounding areas was perhaps not a goal for the Aztecs. The Aztecs cannot sacrifice a life that belongs to their tribal group. Otherwise, an uprising will occur. Hence, instead of conquering other tribal groups, their objective was to have a continuous war with their….....

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