One of the oldest traditions of tattoos, the Aztec tattoo art is popular and flourishing, even in today's times. The aspect of spirituality, which is associated with the art of tattooing in Aztec culture, gives it a completely different meaning and touch. The Aztec people used to wear tattoos to show their devotion to a particular god. The chest, wrist and stomach were the body parts where people used to sport the Aztec tattoos.
Aztec Tattoo Art
Complex and intricate patterns is the specialty of Aztec tattoos. Their strikingly different look is the reason behind Aztec tattoos becoming popular. However, one shouldn't go by just the distinctive look and complex patterns of Aztec tattoos. These tattoos hold significant meaning in every depiction. Some kind of ritual, religious practice, etc. of the ancient Aztec culture is associated with them. As the knowhow regarding the Aztec language went on decreasing in the course of time, it became difficult to make translations of the symbols associated with these tattoos.
Aztec Tattoos History
Aztec tattoos originated in the Mesoamerican region, comprises Central America and Mexico. These forms of tattoos developed in the 14th century and some of them are considered to be sacred by the Aztec people. Tattoos had a significant place in Aztec culture and were used for rituals. Most of these rituals were performed to offer respect to Uitzilopochtle, a god worshiped by the Aztecs. Hernando Cortés, a Spanish conquistador after arriving on the Mexican coast in 1519, found out that the local/indigenous people performed rituals of tattooing/tatauing (Mayan ritual) pictures of demons and gods on their bodies. The Spanish considered this practice of tatauing images of demons on the body as evil. The insight provided by Diego de Landa, a Franciscan monk gives us important information about the aztec tattoos and designs. He traveled a lot in Mexico and studied the different aspects of tattooing. Since, tatauing was painful, some of the Aztecs considered the practice to be a test of bravery. Criminals too were punished by tattooing their face. Thus, many such facts and stories are associated with Aztec tattooing.
Best Aztec Tattoo Arts
Aztec people used various kinds of tattoos and those with depictions of the sun were important. These tattoos played an important role in the Aztec culture and later on became popular in the modern times. Let us have a look at the different Aztec tattoos with their meaning.
The sun is an important symbol, used in various Aztec tattoos and designs. Aztecs considered the sun as guardian of heavens and therefore, the tattoos depicting this god, held great importance.
The Quetzalcoatl, was considered to be an important deity in the ancient culture of Mexico. This god was also known by the name, Feathered Serpent. In Mexico, Quetzalcoatl was known as Kukulakan, while the name Gukumatz was given to him by the Quiche-Maya people of Guatemala.
The Aztec warrior tattoo design is used to offer respect to Tezcatlipoca, the lord of warriors. It is one of the sun tattoos and is depicted on the right shoulder.
The eagle tattoo symbolizes courage, strength and power. It was one of the widely used bird & animal tattoos. The qualities such as strong nature, flying skills and a large size are attributed to the eagle. Therefore, even the Aztec warriors sported the eagle tattoos on their bodies.
The crocodile tattoo is actually the depiction of a monster-like symbol. It resembles a crocodile and has many variations in its design. The tattoo is used to depict a fearsome nature.
The Aztec tattoo art is one of the richest art forms of the ancient times. The surge in its popularity in recent times has led to the preservation of this art. However, there is a need to research with respect to the fundamentals of the symbols and depictions. It would add more meaning to the Aztec tattoos and designs.