Aztec Tattoos

Aztec TattoosAztec Tattoos – History

Aztec tattoos are most commonly seen style in armband tattoos, but who, in fact, were these people?

Aztecs were a very powerful Indian people who lived in the southern part of Mexico in the 15th and 16th century.Meaning of the name of the Aztecs had never been exactly clarified but there are several assumptions. The first one is that it comes from the word Aztlan which marked the northern and the northwestern part of the country where the Aztecs lived. Another one links Aztecs with the Atlantic Ocean through the word “Atl” which means water. According to this assumption Aztecs were the descendants of the Atlantis, who, after the disaster, managed to reach Mexico and build a new civilization.

There were many ancient tribes who used the art of tattoo. The Aztecs are one of the most advanced when it comes to tattooing which is evident from the great heritage with beautiful symbols they have left behind.  Aztec tattoos are a form of art that held great importance in their culture and they were proud of their skin images. For that reason, they had invested a lot of effort into the development of the tattoo art. Aztec tattoos are known for their complexity, elaborate details and great diversity of symbols and shapes which were considered sacred.

Aztec Tattoos – Meaning

Most of Aztec tattoos had religious, spiritual and ritual significance to them. One thing that makes Aztec tattoos different from the skin works of some other tribes is that they had an important role in the culture, a lot of times they were used for rituals. Aztec tattoos were created by idolizing Huitzilopochtli, God of war, sun and human sacrifice worshiped by the Aztecs. Getting certain places tattooed was very important to the Aztecs, and they weren’t only for the adults but for the children as well. Tattooing their chest, abdomen and wrist showed children’s commitment to a certain God, each of which had a specific pattern and design.

Aztec Tattoos – An Art of Aztec People

Best Aztec Tattoo Arts
Aztecs had many Gods and strong beliefs, so many tattoos referred precisely to deities; it was their way of showing honor or demonstrating commitment to certain God. Aside from the sun, which is one of the most popular Aztec tattoos, eagles, warriors, princesses and Aztec calendar are some of the favorite tattoo symbols in the Aztec culture.

 

Aztec Tattoo Design Placement
Aztec tattoos look most attractive in a larger scale, due to their detailed and intricate design, so they are best done on the shoulders, stomach and back, but if chosen properly Aztec tattoos can also be done on the wrist, ankle or back of the neck.

 

Sun God Tattoos
One of the most important Aztec tattoos is the sun which was worshiped in the honor of God Huitzilopochtli who was believed to be the guardian of heaven. The sun was one of the three places where a soul could go after death. Souls of those who died in glory, warriors and women at childbirth, would transform into hummingbirds and follow the sun across the sky, which is why the sun, the moon and the stars appear in so many Aztec tattoos, even today.

 

Feathered Serpent God Tattoos
Quetzalcoatl quite literally translates “feathered serpent”. Except for being known as the boundary creator amongst the earth and sky he has also contributed to the creation of mankind. He wasn’t a very powerful deity but he was respected and he found his way into the everyday life as a priestly title and therefore gaining an important place in the Aztec tattoos and culture.

 

Night God Tattoos
Tezcatlipoca was known for many things and has many names; one of those names is God of smoking mirror, because he used a magical mirror to kill his enemies. He was considered as the God of both war and beauty which is why he is often a part of the Aztec tattoos, usually depicted with his tongue sticking out, looking fierce and mighty.

 

Eagle Tattoos
Because of its size, art of flying and general nature, the Eagle is one the classic Aztec tattoos as it represents courage, power and strength. There are many diverse eagle images but the one believed to be the authentic Aztec tattoo is of an eagle pointing to the west with his beak open and a few feathers protruding from the top of his head.

 

Warrior Tattoos
Since it was believed that in their afterlife warriors go to the sun, the warrior Aztec tattoos had a great meaning and importance. They were usually combined with an eagle as Aztec warrior used to draw his strength from an eagle.

 

Crocodile Tattoos
In Aztec culture it was believed that Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca created the world by capturing a crocodile-like creature, called Cipactli, and distorted it to make land. While the gender of Cipactli is unknown it was believed it was part crocodile, part fish and part toad. Due to its fearsome nature and the belief that it was a pioneer among godly creatures, the crocodile became an important part of Aztec tattoos.

 

Dagger Tattoos
The Aztecs are known for their flower war which was led in order to get new prisoners. Using ceremonial daggers the prisoners’ hearts were cut out and offered as sacrifice to Tonantiuh, the leader of heaven and the fifth Sun God, while the bodies were dismembered and given to the people to be eaten. Because of their belief that only warriors and women who died while bringing the child into the world can go to the sky, daggers symbolize sacrifice or a broken heart which is why they became a repetitive motif in Aztec tattoos.

 

Aztec Calendar Tattoos
The Aztec calendar tattoo is one of the most complex Aztec tattoos, really abundant in details. The calendar consists of eighteen months of twenty days each, and every day has its name. Four concentric circles represent the four seasons, each season having its own sun, so with the change of the season the sun changes as well. The fifth season is the time of Tonantiuh – the main sun which keeps the universe together and demands a human sacrifice.

 

Pretty much all of us has at one point heard of the Aztecs. Today we are lucky to have the opportunity to wear parts of their culture and live with their stunning images that have been passed along through many modern tattoos.

 

Tattoos with the Aztec motif are usually large designs that are tattooed across the back, chest or shoulders. They are extremely beautiful, special, powerful, and simply breath-taking. There isn’t a person in this world who regrets, even for a second, getting Aztec tattoos.

You also may want to read:
Aztec Tattoos For Men
Aztec Tattoos For Women