Religion and rituals

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By Gillian Goddard — senior lecturer, Liverpool Hope University

As a society with extremely strong religious beliefs, the Aztecs believed that worshipping was a crucial part of their everyday life

The Aztec religion developed from the earlier Mayan faith and was a mixture of the old farming traditions and a newer, warrior culture. Religion was a dominant force in the Aztec society, at every level and in every sphere of life. Impressive temples were the most important buildings in the cities. Priests were the most highly-educated people in the communities and, like nobles, were drawn from the highest ranks of society.

Gods

The Aztecs worshipped many gods, both male and female, most of whom were central to nature and their survival needs (see small poster). Important Aztec gods include the sun god, the rain god and the god of maize – their principle crop. War gods were also worshipped. The gods were represented in the form of statues and masks. They were worshipped in temples and were offered propitiatory gifts and sacrifices. The Aztecs believed the gods to be capable of severe destruction as well as beneficence, and so worship had a significant role in their lives.

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