General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 4 Apr 2020/13 Alligator
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Netzahualpilli holds a bouquet of flowers, Codex Ixtlilxochitl

Fondness for flowers...

Flowers played an important role in Aztec/Mexica life, not only as decorations for ceremonial events but also in each individual’s life. The Dominican friar Diego de Durán (1537-1588) commented on the Aztecs’ fondness for flowers:- (Compiled by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

Bouquet of flowers - detail from Codex Mendoza folio 70r
Bouquet of flowers - detail from Codex Mendoza folio 70r (Click on image to enlarge)

They become the happiest people in the world smelling them, for these natives in general are most sensuous and pleasure loving. They find gladness and joy in spending the entire day smelling a little flower or a bouquet made of different kinds of flowers; their gifts are accompanied by them; they relieve the tediousness of journeys with flowers. To sum up, they find the smelling of flowers so comforting that they even stave off and manage to survive hunger by smelling them.

Garlanding with flowers: Florentine Codex Book 11
Garlanding with flowers: Florentine Codex Book 11 (Click on image to enlarge)

Book 11 of the Florentine Codex contains a lengthy paragraph on the ‘offering of flowers’; what follows gives a good feel for Aztec ‘flower power’:-

I offer flowers. I arrange flowers. I thread a flower. I string flowers. I make flowers. I form them to be extending, uneven, rounded, round bouquets of flowers.
I make a flower necklace, a flower garland, a paper of flowers, a bouquet, a flower shield, hand flowers. I thread them. I string them... I provide one with a flower necklace. I place a garland on one... I clothe one in flowers... I cover one with flowers...
When I incite just with words, when I am beguiling him, it is said: “I caress him with flowers. I seduce one. I extend one a lengthy discourse. I induce him with words”...

INFO from: ‘The Essential Codex Mendoza’ by Frances F. Berdan and Patricia Rieff Anawalt (University of California Press, 1997) and ‘Florentine Codex: Book 11 - Earthly Things’ trans. with notes by Charles E. Dibble and Arthur O.J. Anderson (School of American Research and University of Utah, 1963).

Picture sources:-
• Image (portrait of Netzahualpilli) from the Codex Ixtlilxochitl scanned from our copy of the ADEVA facsimile edition (Graz, Austria, 1976)
• Image from the Codex Mendoza scanned from our copy of the James Cooper Clark facsimile edition (London, 1938)
• Image from the Florentine Codex scanned from our copy of the Club Internacional del Libro 3-volume facsimile edition (Madrid, 1994)

emoticon Typical! Just at this point in writing and illustrating Book 11 of the Florentine Codex, the artist(s) ran out of colour ink. Imagine the b/w image above in full colour...!

Aztec pleasure gardens

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Here's what others have said:

Mexicolore replies: Thanks for this! Actually, you’ve hit the nail on the head: the Aztecs par excellence had two totally contrasting sides to them: a fierce, fanatical religion and a gentle, caring and loving side. Flowers were a metaphor for songs, poetry and philosophy, in which they indulged at a serious level. And they say that every Aztec house was decorated with flowers...
Mexicolore replies: We hadn’t heard of Bunnings either! It must be some funky Australian garden shop chain; or are we missing something here...?!