The Aztec Calendar

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This particular piece has been part of my household ever since I can recall. My family and I travel to Morelos, Mexico almost every December to spend the holidays. I am pretty sure that this figure came home with us after one of those annual visits; I have seen it around for so long that it never really caught my attention, but last semester I took a Humanities class and there we learned about the different types of calendars, and it was not until then that I got more interested in learning more about the Aztec calendar.

The artist carved the Aztec calendar stone in 1479; it had naturally been dedicated to the sun god. The carving was 3 feet thick, almost 12 feet across, and it weighed almost 25 tones. The stone it is carved on is from basalt, it is solidified lava, an area where volcanoes were common. After many years, it was lost and it was buried under the central square of Mexico City for over 300 years. In 1790 the renovations began on the central square of Mexico City. On the 17th of December, this massive carving was unearthed, renewing interest in Mexico’s ancient cultures. It was the Aztec Calendar Stone. For a long time it was on display in the Western Tower of the Metropolitan Cathedral, and then in 1885 it was moved to the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico where it is still to this day.

What caught my attention the most out of the entire thing would have to be what is called “the pointer” of the Aztec Calendar, which is the center of the entire thing. At the center of the pointer of the Aztec Calendar, there appears the face of Tonatiuh, the Sun. For this particular reason, the commonly-known Aztec Calendar has been identified as La Piedra del Sol, or the Sun Stone. So really, it should be called the Sun Stone and not the Aztec Calendar. The center of the stone is what gets me every time because it reminds me of an empire, but it is also kind of scary to look at it, if you look closely the sun god is holding a human art in each hand, and his tongue is a ritual blade for sacrifice. It is said that the sun required blood to remain strong, and human sacrifice were often offered. Also, it is unsure of how the stone itself was used, but it may have been simply a monument or possibly a sacrificial altar.

The following links break down the calendar to help you better understand it:

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

You guys can visit this following link and type in your birthday or a special date and it will give you information about what that day means in the Aztec Calendar!

 

Questions:

  • Is there anything else you know about the Aztecs?
  • Why do you think this stone was to important to the Aztecs?
  • Are there any other things you can think of that may have been used as a sacrificial monument?

Brenda Pineda

 

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5 thoughts on “The Aztec Calendar

  1. It is interesting to know that this piece is in great shape after all these years. I would think that erosion and other geological factors would ruin the stone over time, but I guess they didn’t. It is incredible to think about how the artist back in the day had the talent to sculpt such a detailed piece of art. Even back then they were very artistic. I like the symbolism behind it because the piece looks simple, but portrays a lot about a culture.
    I know that the Aztecs originate from Mexico and that their unique architecture that still stands today, can be seen in parts of Mexico. This stone was important to the Aztecs because it was part of their religious beliefs, which also made it a part of their daily lives.

  2. Orthodox Jews used to sacrifice animals in a Temple in Jerusalem. But once the temple was destroyed, they quit. It was said that the slaughtering of animals was no more cruel than the slaughtering for food.

    I really like how the second link explains what each section means. This is very unique and shows a lot about the beliefs that the Aztecs had. In the top image, it is crazy to see how big it really is when a male human is standing in front of it. This is really interesting.

  3. It is a very interesting piece of art. Would you happen to know exactly how these type of items are used? I wonder with the size where it was originally placed. With it being found near a Volcano I wonder if that is how it ended up buried. I wonder what they used to chisel away at the stone. the details in the stone are so neat and symmetrical for a piece that is that old. I can appreciate the craftsmanship that was exhibited in this piece. Unfortunately I know little to no information regarding the Aztec’s. Stone was probably all they had then to create art and have it last for a long time. No there is nothing in particular that I can think of that has been used as a sacrificial monument.

  4. I dont know a lot about the Aztecs except that they were an early civilization. I know I learned about them briefly in history classes. I remember they were highly religious and devote to their gods which is why this piece makes sense. The fact that it’s so big doesnt surprise me either, making huge monuments to honor and worship something so important to them would be necessary to them. I think it was so important to make them very large was because they saw the sun god as someone very important and necessary to their lives and they wanted to show their loyalty and gratitude.

  5. The most important thing I can think of regarding the Aztecs is that they invented chocolate. That’s a huge contribution to the world!! I think the Aztecs were known for artistry such as pottery and sculpting, as well as the art they designed for their warriors to wear as tattoos. I’m fascinated by the amount of detail and information that is carved into the stone. It seems as if it was meant to have a practical purpose. I think the stone was important because of the Aztec’s obsession with their gods and rituals. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of sacrificial monuments is the same as Erika…The Jewish temple in the Old Testament.

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