Aztec Indians were a ancient culture, initiated in Aztland which can be translated as “the place of the origin” which is believed to be located in the North Valley of Mexico; no one is completely sure if this was an actual name or whether it’s just a mythical place of where the Aztec tribes originated from. It is believed that there were seven Aztec tribes that fled to the South of Mexico and the use of tattoos could differentiate the people from different tribes. No matter this culture seemingly dominated most of Mexico during the 14th, 15th & 16th Century through their clever mixing of cultures with civilisation but letting the Aztec beliefs dominate, teaching a hunting and gathering method of life.
Intelligence was an important aspect of the Aztec culture as well, teaching children from a young age of art and sacred symbols and shapes. Boys and girls were schooled by their parents generally till the age of 15 before occupying separate classes, teaching everyone even the commoners if they desired (being the farmers and tradesmen of society), it was a free choice. Boys learnt how to fight, military history, myths, religion and war songs. Whereas Girls generally learnt about requirements for the family such as cooking and crafts. This is why Quetzalcoatl was a popular tattoo as he represented intelligence and wisdom being one of the most powerful Gods.
With many of these tattoos designed in reference to Gods or rituals creating a sense of hierarchical meaning and importance of what this person has accomplished within their life, expressing images to mean more than just an imprint on their bodies or more than just visually attractive to the naked eye. Developed in the 14th Century these imprints were more than just pictures; inked onto a person they were their beliefs, their bravery, the culture and a way of life, displayed for all to all to witness and respect.
Even the placement in which the images were located was seen as a significant importance. As different placement of a tattoo can connect to different Gods, the choice of a God is usually chosen in childhood displayed on the chest, stomach or wrist different places signifying different Gods. For example the sun is was an extremely popular design as it was one of their god’s Huitzilopochtli as the sun brought light and life to the land and that it guarded heaven, which the Aztecs connect with power.
Many people today still get Aztec tattoos whether its to pay respect to their ansestors, the meaning behind the tattoo or just the love of the design it is still a popular use of art today.