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

By Caroline Dodds Pennock

The background of the Aztecs has been haunted via the spectre of human sacrifice. Reinvesting the Aztecs with a humanity usually denied to them, and exploring their surprising spiritual violence as a understandable component to lifestyles, this booklet integrates a clean interpretation of gender with an cutting edge research of the typical lifetime of the Aztecs.

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Extra info for Bonds of Blood: Gender, Lifecycle and Sacrifice in Aztec Culture

Example text

The honoured captives chosen to participate in the striping were adorned as warriors, furnished with weakened weapons, and 20 Bonds of Blood placed one by one upon the temalacatl. Tethered to this round gladiatorial stone, each was then confronted with a series of warriors whose task it was to vanquish him, weakening him sufficiently to be thrown across the stone and have his heart torn out to honour the Sun. A ritualized dance of battle, this was nonetheless a ferocious and potentially fatal combat for the Aztec warriors who participated.

Introduction 13 by considering the question of death. Death was fundamental to Aztec understandings of themselves and their situation, and this study must, therefore, address such preoccupations, essential as they were to determining both individual and collective identity. Questions of death also reveal issues of life and individual Aztecs found enduring shared notions of gender in the fatal rituals which were central to their existence. As in life, gender distinctions were critical, and in the domain of death, the discrimination between the sexes was explicit, even while the complementarity of masculine and feminine roles was demonstrated.

Although pain and mortality were unremitting companions of every Living with Death 33 Aztec’s existence, it was for warrior men that a precipitate death appeared preordained. For them, to die upon the stone or the battlefield was idealized as the defining endeavour of their life and their ultimate fate. The male lifespan was circumscribed by the demands of his destiny, and one might suggest that his aspirations and ambitions might be similarly restricted. But although men appear to have been condemned to a life of ominous expectation, we must not overstate the inevitability or imposition of such ideals.

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