We often get asked to bring together a collection of Aztec tattoos; these are some of the most popular pieces to get after all! This particular selection has artwork from some artists who really excel at this particular style...especially because the Aztec culture is full of incredible history. When a tattoo artist really knows the roots of what they are creating, they can create tattoos that are incredibly powerful...and these Aztec tattoos are surely going to blow your mind. When someone can take a swatch of skin and make it look like ancient stone...there are no words for that kind of mastery!
Many of these tattoos have characters from legends or folklore from Aztec history. One of which is Mictlantecuhtli, the god of the death and the dead and King of Mictlan, the deepest part of the underworld. "There was a rich set of beliefs related to Aztec god of death Mictlantecuhtli in Aztec religion. According to these beliefs, people who died in certain ways went to different kinds of paradises and the rest of the people who died ordinary deaths went to the underworld governed by Mictlantecuhtli. After death, their souls had to make a four year journey, going through various trials including the nine hells of Mictlan. Finally, they found their final resting place with Mictlantecuhtli...In most of the works of art, he is represented as a skeleton or covered in bones with red spots representing blood. In some representations, he is wearing a skull mask along with bone ear plugs and a costume of owl feathers...he is depicted as the symbol of a dog in the Codix Borgia."
Another common theme among those who get Aztec tattoos are the Jaguar Warriors. These were some of the most highly respected warriors and were part of the upper class elite. "To become an Eagle Warrior or Jaguar Warrior was not easy. Training started at a very early age. The Aztecs had a tough education system. Young boys were trained in fighting, battles tactics, killing, and most importantly taking captives. The entire Aztec society was structured to simply be better at warfare than everybody else. The existence and purpose of the males focused on being a great warrior. At the age of 17, young Aztec men became warriors and entered formal military training. Aztec warriors could move up in ranking by capturing enemies."
Perhaps a perfect way to understand how important these particular people were to the Aztec society was knowing some of the intricacies of the ceremonies for warriors who died in battle. "Mourning for fallen warriors was a long and sacred process. The mourners for eighty days straight would not bathe and groom themselves. These actions were done to wait for that fallen warrior's soul to reach the Sky of the Sun...It was believed by the Aztecs that the same place for the after life of warriors was also the place for women who died during childbirth."
Another important deity that you will find depicted here in this collection of Aztec tattoos is Tlaloc, the god of rain. His duties were actually concerned with much more than just falling drops of water. "The rain god was among the most important of the Aztec deities, governing the spheres of water, fertility, and agriculture. Tlaloc oversaw crop growth, especially maize, and the regular cycle of the seasons." How did they make sure that Tlaloc would ensure good crops? Seriously crazy ceremonies. "One of the most common rites carried out during such ceremonies were sacrifices of children, whose crying was considered beneficial for obtaining rain. The tears of new-born children, being strictly connected with the Tlalocan, were pure and precious."
And although Aztec culture is known to be really bloody and violent, they created some incredible art forms that till influence artists today. Their strength, imagination, and ingenuity are still inspiring today...just check out these Aztec tattoos for proof.