General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 24 Mar 2019/13 Lizard
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Our In-House Team

Question for December 2010

Did they have the same seasons as we do? Asked by City of London Freemen’s School. Chosen and answered by Our In-House Team.

Symbols for water and fire, Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca, folio 35
Symbols for water and fire, Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca, folio 35 (Click on image to enlarge)

Although some dictionaries list words in the Aztec/Mexica language, Náhuatl, for 4 seasons -
xopan/xopantla - spring (green time of year, rainy season)
tonallan/xopaniztempan - summer (time of heat)
tonalco - autumn (during the heat)
cecuizpan - winter (time of cold)
- these don’t mean a huge amount: the farming year in Mesomerica in essence consists of just two main and opposite seasons, RAINY and DRY. In Aztec times these matched two principal and contrary activities - AGRICULTURE and WAR. In turn these sacred duties were governed by two of the most important gods for the Mexica: Tlaloc (god of rain) and Huitzilopochtli (god of war and sacrifice). If you follow the link below (Professor Manuel Aguilar-Moreno’s answer on symmetry and the Aztecs) you can see a picture of the main temple of the Mexica, dedicated to these two gods - and to these two central duties.

On this page is an image from the Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca which illustrates clearly the importance placed by the Mexica on the balance between opposite forces in life and the universe - in this case, water and fire. When combined, they form an even more powerful symbol, that of sacred warfare. Serge Gruzinski (Painting the Conquest) calls this image ‘cosmic flames leaping from precious water (which also represents blood leaping from sacrificial victims captured in battle)’.

The mission of the Aztecs/Mexica was to struggle eternally to keep all the opposite forces in the world, including the two main seasons, in balance - constantly moving up and down/round and round but maintaining this all-important symmetry.

The Aztecs and symmetry

Our In-House Team has answered 21 questions altogether:

Did the Aztecs have different types of chewing gum to today’s?

Did the Aztecs have a god of snow?

Which parts of the Day of the Dead festival go back to the Aztecs?

Why did they put holes [gaps] in the [upright huehuetl] drums?

Was Snake Woman an Aztec empress?

How big was the Aztec army?

Did they have First Aid?

Which pet was the Aztecs’ favourite?

Why did they call them ‘chinampas’?

Did the Spanish have an interpreter when they conquered the Aztecs?

Which was the Aztecs’ most fearsome weapon?

Why was the Sun God called Tonatiuh?

Did they send post (mail)?

Did they have the same seasons as we do?

What did they do with the shells of armadillos after eating the meat?

Why didn’t Aztec houses have doors?

Which was the biggest group [job sector] in Aztec society?

Why is it better to support loads on the forehead and not on the shoulders?

When children were punished, how long were they held over smoking chillies for?

What was the Aztecs’ greatest fear?

Why did the Aztecs believe gold was the poo of the Sun God?

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