Aztec Tattoos

aztectattooAztec Tattoos are one of the most easily recognized Tattoo Styles because of their bright colors and highly stylized nature, but where do they come from?

The Aztecs were one of the most powerful peoples in history, dominating the area we now call Mexico in between the 13th and 15th centuries, until the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors heralded their destruction.

The Aztec society was highly structured and had a strict social and religious code which dominated their daily lives.  Aztec tattoos, as we refer to them, formed a part of that culture.

The thing that most of remember from our schooldays are the bloodthirsty images propagated by the Spanish Conquerors.  These depicted a barbaric society that was only interested in appeasing their gods by spilling blood in horrific ways.  It is human nature to judge other peoples and cultures by our own standards and in doing that we miss many important aspects of a society.  The thing that went missing here was the incredibly beautiful artwork of the Aztecs, and Tattoos were an important part of that.

The nature of Aztec society was such that almost everyone had some training the arts, even if it was just creating simple, but beautiful, pots and utensils.  The architecture was stunning and the buildings were decorated and carved on every available surface to express the emotions of the people and their devotion to their goods and their tribe.

Aztec Tattoos grew from both the religious and cultural aspects of their society.  In common with many tribal societies Rites of Passage from one part of your life to another were marked with ceremonies of many different kinds, both boys and girls would have Tattoos to mark their coming of age and other important milestones.  Tribal affiliation was also demonstrated visibly by the type, style and colors of the Tattoos.

Religious devotion to a particular god was also shown by the Tattoos, particularly those of the Warriors.  Tezcatlipoca, the god of Warriors, was a popular choice.  The driving force of the Aztec religion was the Sun, they developed an accurate calendar which was beautifully depicted in much of the artwork.  Many Aztec Tattoos are based on this calendar, also honoring the Sun god, Huitzilopochtili.  This is probably one of the most popular Aztec Tattoo designs used today.

The next article in this series on Aztec Tattoos will look at those designs and their symbolism.

Butterfly Tattoo Designs

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