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aztec symbols

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									Aztec Symbols

The Aztec civilization thrived from the 14th century to the 16th century
until the Spanish conquest ended their reign. They believed in many gods
and myths, using Aztec symbols to represent their beliefs. Animals played
a particularly significant part of their culture. The Aztecs were one of
the most artistic civilizations and we have learned much about them
through their art.

The Aztec's legacy is still felt today and can be seen in everyday
products such as T-shirts, hats, bags and other clothing items. Posters,
prints and calendars also feature symbols and other household items, such
as fridge magnets, decorative plates, mousepads, mugs and playing cards.
Aztec symbols have also been used on Mexican and US postage stamps. A
special set of Mexican stamps with Aztec designs was published in 1956 to
mark the 100 year anniversary of the first postage stamp in the country.

An alphabet based on letters was developed but the early alphabet used
pictograms. These symbols resemble Japanese and Chinese characters and
they described the world around them. The Aztec symbols can still be
often seen in Mexico and the Mexican flag is an example. It shows an
eagle on a cactus, holding a snake in its mouth.

Aztec gods were worshipped, using Aztec symbols, such as the
Quetzalcoatl, which is a feathered serpent. Other important gods were
represented by the Huitzilopochtli (hummingbird) and the Tezcatilipoca
(smoking mirror). Other animals, real and legendary, symbolized different
qualities and emotions. The mythical Phoenix bird depicted re-birth and
the frog represented joy. Butterflies stood for transformation, turtles
symbolized earth and the fish was the animal for instinct and
determination. The monkey was a symbol of celebration and dance.

The Aztecs devised a calendar and used symbols to denote the days of the
month. Animals again featured and included the crocodile, lizard,
serpent, deer, rabbit, dog and monkey. The other symbols used were a
house, wind, death and water. The sun forms a central part of the
calendar, as the sun was very important to the Aztecs.

Today, the influence of this civilization can be seen in tattoos,
something that the Aztecs themselves were fond of having. They held art
in high esteem and considered tattoos to be a kind of art work, even
paying tribute to their god, Uitzilopochtle by having one. The most
common images used by modern tattooists are the sun, serpents, gods and
various pictograms. Some of these tattoos are elaborate and are executed
by the most skilled tattooists.


								
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