Facts About How The Aztec Culture Handled Their Desires
Facts About How The Aztec Culture Handled Their Desires

Facts About How The Aztec Culture Handled Their Desires

Trista - October 22, 2018

Facts About How The Aztec Culture Handled Their Desires
A page from the Codex Borbonicus, an Aztec manuscript. Wikimedia.

2. Women Were Not Allowed To View Eclipses, Lest They Birth A Monster

The Aztecs believed that divine celestial events had a significant bearing on unborn children. In particular, they greatly feared the effects that solar eclipses would have on unborn children. The source of this belief was the Tzitzimitl, astral deities that were ordinarily harmless but turned into terrifying monsters when the sun disappeared during an eclipse. It was believed that women allowed to view the eclipse would come to be harmed by the Tzitzimitl who would turn their unborn children into monsters like themselves.

The Aztec midwives, known as tlamatlquiticitl, were responsible for ensuring the safety of pregnant women during events like eclipses. Any sign of cosmic disorder such as eclipses, comets or other strange events were taken as ill omens and a cause for pregnant women and their unborn children to be protected.

On a much more practical note to the modern mind, the tlamatlquiticitl also advised mothers, especially first-time mothers, on their health and diet. They also coached women on how to give birth, with the Aztec traditionally giving birth in a squatting position that allowed gravity to aid in the delivery. They also taught Aztec mothers how to breastfeed and ensured that the milk flowed adequately and that the infant learned how to latch on correctly.

Facts About How The Aztec Culture Handled Their Desires
A painting of conquistadors. Wikimedia.

1. Christian Conquistadors Forced Aztecs To Give Up Their Wives

When the Christian colonizers arrived from Spain in the 15th century, they brought the full force of their Catholic beliefs with them. Starting in 1529, the Catholics began converting Aztec nobility to Christendom with the aim of spreading it through the nobles to the lower classes. Part of the conversion included a demand to have only one wife, as polygamy was strictly outlawed under Christianity.

Under Christian law, any additional wife beyond the “primary” wife was an adulteress and immediately disinherited from the man’s family, and all children declared illegitimate. This forced monogamy had an immediate and disastrous effect on Aztec culture, as the many arranged marriages among nobility had forged alliances, concentrated wealth and settled disputes. It also left countless women with no legal or societal status.

Women who had woven cloth for their husbands before were now put to work by the Spanish in grueling conditions. The encomiendas were created, which was a Spanish labor system used in areas they colonized. The tradition of Aztec women as paid laborers was ended and men were put to work in cloth mills, ending the tradition of Aztec men as a warrior class. With the catastrophic changes to their culture and way of life, it is unsurprising that their Empire fell within a century of colonization.


Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“The mysteries of chili heat: Why people love the pain” John McQuaid, Salon. February 2015.

“Concubines and Cloth: Women and Weaving in Aztec Palaces and Colonial Mexico” Susan Toby Evans. 2008.

“How much for your love: prostitution among the Aztecs” Ulises Chávez Jimenez, Chacmool Conference Proceedings. 2004.

“Roles Of Men and Women In The Aztec Empire” History Crunch Writers, History Crunch, August 15, 2018.