General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 22 Nov 2017/7 Movement
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Ideas for EVERY-DAY LIFE SCENES (4)

Continuing our series based on ‘The Sun Kingdom of the Aztecs’ by Victor W. von Hagen (1958/1960), Von Hagen tells the story of the Aztecs through the eyes of a 14-year-old Aztec youth, Speaking Eagle...

‘As Speaking Eagle turned down each ear of corn so the crows would not eat it, he thought about all that corn meant to the Aztecs...’
‘As Speaking Eagle turned down each ear of corn so the crows would not eat it, he thought about all that corn meant to the Aztecs...’ (Click on image to enlarge)

The corn was now fully ripened. Speaking Eagle knew exactly what work should be done at this time. He went through the fields, bending the ears of corn in such a way that the birds could not get at the kernels and eat them.
It was the Indian custom to plant corn in March, after the rains. When the ground was soft, the Aztecs dug out hillocks of earth, set three feet apart, in which they planted three or four grains of corn. Preparing the ground with only a fire-hardened digging stick was the hardest work of all, and the Indians regularly helped one another in this.

The clan council agreed that if one acre of land could be expected to yield 20 cargoes of corn each year - a cargo of corn was 60 pounds, which a man could easily carry on his back - and each man had ten acres, then each family in the clan would have 12,000 pounds of corn a year. All this was worked out on paper by a scribe.

‘Naturally, the people had to pay for the upkeep of the city, its canals, waterways and dykes, and festivals which were held every month of the year...’
‘Naturally, the people had to pay for the upkeep of the city, its canals, waterways and dykes, and festivals which were held every month of the year...’ (Click on image to enlarge)

To prepare the land, weed and harvest the corn (and the beans and squash planted on the same land), would take 200 days of an Aztec’s time, provided his wife and his children helped him.

And now once again, as it had been for century after century, it was September, the gathering month, the harvesting of corn. Overcome by his thoughts, Speaking Eagle tenderly placed on the ground a small clay image of Xilonen, the corn goddess. Scooping up a handful of the good earth, he let it run through his fingers as he muttered his prayer, until the image was entirely covered.

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