The Artistic World of Aztec Tattoos – Lets Explore the Meanings

gray aztec calendar tattoo on the back

There are various ancient cultures and tradition that used tattoos as a mode of expression and communication. Each tattoo had a symbolic meaning and an intricate design. The Aztecs, part of the Mexican culture, were known for their creativity and artistic aptitude. As a result they produced some of the best and attractive form of body art. Here we explore the world of Aztec tattoos.

Introduction to Aztec Tattoos

monochrome aztec calendar tattoo on the side and back

Aztecs had a very traditional culture. Arts, education, ceremonies and religious practices were the highlights of their culture. With various rituals involved, Aztecs had various designs and symbols which they held sacred.
Likewise, tattoos were the integral part of the Aztec culture. Tattoos were repeatedly used in rituals, such as those devoted to the gods. These tattoos were painted onto the bodies of children in order to show the children’s attachment to the god. Each tattoo was placed on a specific body part, with its unique meaning and importance. There was a symbolic pattern for each Aztec tattoo.

Importance of Aztec Tattoo Designs

Aztec tattoo designs mostly revolved around sun, as it was believed to be the source of life. These designs were used to differentiate between people. Often these tattoo designs were a symbol of warrior’s ranks and his achievements. The design chosen was based on which god the person wanted to connect with. Wrist, chest and stomach were the popular body parts for the design. Nahuatl language was used for Aztec tattoo designs.

Aztec Symbols Tattoos and Their Meanings

Aztec symbols tattoos were derived from their great mythologies. Aztec tattoos and meanings draw their inspiration from various gods and their devotion to them.
Some of the Aztec Symbols tattoos include:

  • Sun
  • Eagle
  • Calendar
  • Crocodile
  • Feathered Serpent
  • Warrior god
  • Warrior

Each Aztec tattoos and meanings are unique in nature

Sun tattoo was made to honor their Aztec Sun God. A left handed humming bird represents the Sun God. Sun god is said to be the guardian of heavens. Sun represented the starting of universe. It was continuous rising and setting marked the existence of after life, hence sun tattoo meant ‘belief in afterlife’.
Eagle was the widely used tattoo among other animals and birds. It meant power, strength and courage. Hence this tattoo was mostly found on warriors. Eagle with the head pointing westwards, open beak and feathers protruding on the top of his head is said to be the original tattoo.
Calendar is a combination of many facial features. Each of these features represents a month. God of Sun is depicted in most forms of this calendar tattoo.
Crocodile is a monster like creature which shares a resemblance with crocodile. Amongst various forms of crocodile was a sea monster half toad half fish. There was a myth that its body was used to create earth, hence it was a godly creature. It represented the fearsome nature.
Feathered Serpent was the god of weather, creativity and fertility. He was known to be the most powerful god; hence its design is most popularly tattooed.
Warrior God was known to be the ultimate, invisible god. His power could only be felt at night through a sudden flow of wind. Although related to wars, yet he was associated with hurricanes, enmity, etc. His fierce face makes it a popular tattoo design.

This was the most important tattoo. It represented journey of one’s soul to afterlife. Warrior was said to draw his strength from eagle, therefore both designs were tattooed together.

10 Photos of the The Artistic World of Aztec Tattoos – Lets Explore the Meanings

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