Mexica

Mexica
Aztec drums, Florentine Codex..jpg
Music and dance during a One Flower ceremony, from the Florentine Codex.
Regions with significant populations
Languages
Nahuatl
Related ethnic groups
Other Nahua peoples

The Mexica (Nahuatl: Mēxihcah, Nahuatl pronunciation: [meːˈʃiʔkaʔ] (About this sound listen);[1] the singular is Mēxihcatl [meːˈʃiʔkat͡ɬ][1]) or Mexicas were an indigenous people of the Valley of Mexico, known today as the rulers of the Aztec Empire. This group was also known as the Culhua-Mexica in recognition of its kinship alliance with the neighboring Culhua, descendants of the revered Toltecs, who occupied the fabled city of Tula from the tenth through twelfth centuries. The Mexica were additionally referred to as the “Tenochca,” a term associated with the name of their altepetl (city-state), Tenochtitlan, and Tenochtitlan’s founding leader, Tenoch[2]. According to Berdan the name Aztec was coined by Alexander von Humboldt. He came up with the word by putting together “Aztlan” and “tec(atl)” where Aztlan “(Place of the Herons) was the mythical homeland of the Mexica, and -teca(h) literally means ‘people of’.”[3] Nowadays, the term Aztec is used very broadly because it refers to not only the Mexica but also to the Nahuatl-speaking peoples of the Valley of Mexico and its neighboring valleys.[4]

Brief History[edit]

Huitzilopochtli, the patron god of the Mexica, as depicted in the Codex Telleriano-Remensis.

After about 1200 CE, nomadic humans entered the Valley of Mexico. These nomadic people would eventually split into different groups, one of them being the Mexica. When they arrived they, “encountered the remnants of the Toltec empire (Hicks 2008; Weaver 1972).”[5] There were many groups, including the Mexica. All of the groups are believed to have the same birthplace: Aztlan.[6]Given the Mexicas religious beliefs, it is said that they were actually searching for a sign that one of their main Gods, Huitzilopochtli, had given them. Over time, the Mexica separated Huitzilopochtli from Tezcatlipoca, another distinct god that was more predominantly idolized, redefining their relative realms of power, reshaped the mythos, and made him politically superior.[7]

The Mexica were to find, “an eagle with a snake in its beak, perched on a prickly pear cactus.”[8] Wherever they saw this that was the place in which they were meant to live. They continuously searched for this symbol. Eventually, they happened to stumble upon Lake Texcoco where they finally saw this very symbol. There was an island on this lake where, “they took refuge..., naming their settlement Tenochtitlan (Among the Stone-Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit).”[9] Berdan states that Tenochtitlan was founded around the year 1325 but other researchers and anthropologists believe the year was actually 1345.[10] Meanwhile, a dissident group of Mexica separated from the main body and settled in a location slightly to the north of Tenochtitlan. Calling their new home Tlatelolco (Place of the Spherical Earth Mound), the Tlatelolco were to become Tenochtitlan’s persistent rivals in the Basin of Mexico.[11] The Mexica were a Nahua people who founded their two cities Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco on raised islets in Lake Texcoco in 1325 CE, and 1337 CE, respectively. After the rise of the Aztec Triple Alliance, the Tenochca Mexica (the inhabitants of Tenochtitlan) assumed a senior position over their two allied cities, Texcoco and Tlacopan. As Willermet mentions, after just a few years that Tenochtitlan was founded, “the Mexica dominated the political landscape in Central Mexico until the Spanish arrived in AD 1519 (Hicks 2008)."[12]

The Mexica, once established, built grand temples for different purposes. The Templo Mayor, nearby buildings, and associated sculptures and offerings are rich in the symbolism of Aztec cosmology that linked rain and fertility, warfare, sacrifice, and imperialism with the sacred mission to preserve the sun and the cosmic order.[13] The Templo Mayor was particularly special for many reasons, specifically since it was, “the site of large-scale sacrifices of enemy warriors which served intertwined political and religious ends (Berdan 1982: 111-119; Carrasco 1991).”[14] The Templo Mayor was a double pyramid-temple dedicated to Tlaloc, the ancient Central Mexican rain god, and Huitzilopochtli, the Mexica tribal numen, who, as the politically dominant deity in Mexico, was associated with the sun.[15]

The Mexica are eponymous of the placename Mexico Mēxihco [meːˈʃiʔko]. This refers to the interconnected settlements in the valley which became the site of what is now Mexico City, which held natural, geographical, and population advantages as the metropolitan center of the region of the future Mexican state. In the end, “the Mexica of Tenochtitlan were conquered by the Spanish conquistadors under Fernando (Hernán) Cortés in 1521.”[16] This area was expanded upon in the wake of the Spanish conquest and administered from the former Aztec capital as New Spain.

Like many of the peoples around them, the Mexica spoke Nahuatl. The language was introduced by the Mexica and, over time, became a lingua franca and dominated over the Tarascan language, Purépecha.[17] The form of Nahuatl used in the 16th century, when it began to be written in the alphabet brought by the Spanish, is known as Classical Nahuatl. Nahuatl is still spoken today by over 1.5 million people.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Nahuatl Dictionary. (1990). Wired Humanities Project. University of Oregon. Retrieved August 29, 2012, from link
  2. ^ Frances F. Berdan "Mesoamerica: Mexica." In Encyclopedia of Mexico: History, Society & Culture, edited by Michael S. Werner. Routledge, 1998.
  3. ^ Frances F. Berdan "Mesoamerica: Mexica." In Encyclopedia of Mexico: History, Society & Culture, edited by Michael S. Werner. Routledge, 1998.
  4. ^ Frances F. Berdan "Mesoamerica: Mexica." In Encyclopedia of Mexico: History, Society & Culture, edited by Michael S. Werner. Routledge, 1998.
  5. ^ Cathy Willermet et al., "BIODISTANCES AMONG MEXICA, MAYA, TOLTEC, AND TOTONAC GROUPS OF CENTRAL AND COASTAL MEXICO / LAS DISTANCIAS BIOLÓGICAS ENTRE LOS MEXICAS, MAYAS, TOLTECAS, Y TOTONACAS DE MÉXICO CENTRAL Y ZONA COSTERA." Chungara: Revista De Antropología Chilena 45, no. 3 (2013), 449.
  6. ^ Ellis, Elisabeth (2011). World History. United States: Pearson Education Inc. p. 192. ISBN 978-0-13-372048-8. 
  7. ^ Emily Umberger "Tezcatlipoca and Huitzilopochtli: Political Dimensions of Aztec Deities." In Tezcatlipoca: Trickster and Supreme Deity, edited by Baquedano Elizabeth, 83-112. University Press of Colorado, (2014) 86.
  8. ^ Frances F. Berdan "Mesoamerica: Mexica." In Encyclopedia of Mexico: History, Society & Culture, edited by Michael S. Werner. Routledge, 1998.
  9. ^ Frances F. Berdan "Mesoamerica: Mexica." In Encyclopedia of Mexico: History, Society & Culture, edited by Michael S. Werner. Routledge, 1998.
  10. ^ Frances F. Berdan "Mesoamerica: Mexica." In Encyclopedia of Mexico: History, Society & Culture, edited by Michael S. Werner. Routledge, 1998.
  11. ^ Eloise Q. Keber "Nahua Rulers, Pre Hispanic." In Encyclopedia of Mexico: History, Society & Culture, edited by Michael S. Werner. Routledge, 1998.
  12. ^ Cathy Willermet et al., "BIODISTANCES AMONG MEXICA, MAYA, TOLTEC, AND TOTONAC GROUPS OF CENTRAL AND COASTAL MEXICO / LAS DISTANCIAS BIOLÓGICAS ENTRE LOS MEXICAS, MAYAS, TOLTECAS, Y TOTONACAS DE MÉXICO CENTRAL Y ZONA COSTERA." Chungara: Revista De Antropología Chilena 45, no. 3 (2013), 449.
  13. ^ Peter N. Peregrine et al. Ember, eds. 2002. Encyclopedia of Prehistory: Volume 5: Middle America. 1 online resource (XXIX, 462 pages) vols. Boston, MA: Springer US, 33.
  14. ^ Peter N. Peregrine et al. Ember, eds. 2002. Encyclopedia of Prehistory: Volume 5: Middle America. 1 online resource (XXIX, 462 pages) vols. Boston, MA: Springer US, 33.
  15. ^ Emily Umberger "Antiques, Revivals, and References to the past in Aztec Art." RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, no. 13 (1987): 66.
  16. ^ Frances F. Berdan "Mesoamerica: Mexica." In Encyclopedia of Mexico: History, Society & Culture, edited by Michael S. Werner. Routledge, 1998.
  17. ^ Susan T. Evans, "Postclassic Cultures of Mesoamerica." In Encyclopedia of Archaeology, edited by Deborah M. Pearsall. Elsevier Science & Technology, 2008.

References[edit]

  • Andrews, James Richard. Introduction to classical Nahuatl. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003. ISBN 0-8061-3452-6.
  • Berdan, Frances F. "Mesoamerica: Mexica." In Encyclopedia of Mexico: History, Society & Culture, edited by Michael S. Werner. Routledge, 1998.[1]
  • Evans, Susan Toby. "Postclassic Cultures of Mesoamerica." In Encyclopedia of Archaeology, edited by Deborah M. Pearsall. Elsevier Science & Technology, 2008.[2]
  • Keber, Eloise Quiñones. "Nahua Rulers, Pre Hispanic." In Encyclopedia of Mexico: History, Society & Culture, edited by Michael S. Werner. Routledge, 1998.[3]
  • Peregrine, Peter N., and Melvin. Ember, eds. 2002. Encyclopedia of Prehistory: Volume 5: Middle America. 1 online resource (XXIX, 462 pages) vols. Boston, MA: Springer US. [4]
  • Umberger, Emily. "Tezcatlipoca and Huitzilopochtli: Political Dimensions of Aztec Deities." In Tezcatlipoca: Trickster and Supreme Deity, edited by Baquedano Elizabeth, 83-112. University Press of Colorado, 2014.
  • Umberger, Emily. "Antiques, Revivals, and References to the past in Aztec Art." RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, no. 13 (1987): 62-105.
  • Willermet, Cathy, Heather J.H. Edgar, Corey Ragsdale, and B. Scott Aubry. "BIODISTANCES AMONG MEXICA, MAYA, TOLTEC, AND TOTONAC GROUPS OF CENTRAL AND COASTAL MEXICO / LAS DISTANCIAS BIOLÓGICAS ENTRE LOS MEXICAS, MAYAS, TOLTECAS, Y TOTONACAS DE MÉXICO CENTRAL Y ZONA COSTERA." Chungara: Revista De Antropología Chilena 45, no. 3 (2013): 447-59.