General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 22 Sep 2017/11 Vulture
Text Size:

Search the Site (type in white box):

Article suitable for Top Juniors and above

Professor Camilla Townsend

Question for October 2012

Is it true a boy was punished by being held over burning chiles but a girl was just threatened with this? Asked by Morgans Primary School. Chosen and answered by Professor Camilla Townsend.

In the Codex Mendoza an 11-year-old Aztec boy is punished by inhaling the smoke of burning chillies. The girl is being threatened with the same punishment...
In the Codex Mendoza an 11-year-old Aztec boy is punished by inhaling the smoke of burning chillies. The girl is being threatened with the same punishment... (Click on image to enlarge)

This specific example may or may not have occurred in real life. But it is true that boys and girls were punished differently. Keep in mind that nearly all boys would grow up to serve as warriors at one time or another. The parents who loved them had a duty to prepare them for harshness. Girls, on the other hand, had to learn to accept without complaint all that went with serving men, raising children, etc. Their mothers taught them, for example, in anticipation of nursing their infants, to go without sleep!

Image: detail from the Codex Mendoza, folio 60r (original in the Bodleian Library, Oxford), scanned from our own copy of the James Cooper Clark facsimile edition, London, 1938.

Professor Camilla Townsend has answered 5 questions altogether:

Is it true a boy was punished by being held over burning chiles but a girl was just threatened with this?

Would a son inherit the family house from his father when he grew up?

When they got married, were they arranged marriages?

What was the highest position a woman could reach?

Why did the Aztecs sacrifice the men and not the women?

Comment button