General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 24 Nov 2017/9 Rain
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Professor Davíd Carrasco

Question for July 2017

Was it true that the Aztecs believed that by wearing masks they took on extra powers? Asked by Loseley Fields Primary School. Chosen and answered by Professor Davíd Carrasco.

Mixtec priest Lord 7-Rain wears a death mask on his belt; Codex Zouche-Nuttall plate 39
Mixtec priest Lord 7-Rain wears a death mask on his belt; Codex Zouche-Nuttall plate 39 (Click on image to enlarge)

In Mexico many indigenous people still believe that by wearing masks they take on extra powers. The mask was revered because it was loaded with sacred energy identified with a specific animal or ancestor or god. This sacred energy was alive and endowed the person wearing it with the specific powers of that being. People placed ‘masks’ on their elbows (Gods also wore masks of gods on different parts of their bodies), knees, heads and backs as well. Think about school or team mascots today. Last year the Denver BRONCOS won the Superbowl and the belief is that the bucking bronco helps the Denver defensive line protect the quarterback…at least sometimes!

Image scanned from our our own copy of the ADEVA facsimile edition of the Codex Zouche-Nuttall, Graz, Austria, 1987.

Professor Davíd Carrasco has answered 2 questions altogether:

Did the Aztecs have a particularly BAD ruler, like we had Henry VIII?

Was it true that the Aztecs believed that by wearing masks they took on extra powers?

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