AZTEC SOCIETY STRUCTURE SOCIAL SYSTEMS & WORLDVIEW Aztec
AZTEC SOCIETY STRUCTURE SOCIAL SYSTEMS & WORLDVIEW Aztec society was highly structured, based on agriculture and trade, and guided by religion. They worshipped Gods that represented natural forces necessary to their agricultural economy. An individual was born into a particular social class and generally remained a member of that class.
Two main classes were: Nobility Commoners Within each class there were subgroups with different status. FAMILY CLANS Aztec society was organized into units called calpolli Members of the calpolli lived in the same
neighbourhood and worshiped at the same temple Some groups were based on the work they did The calpolli owned the land where its members lived and farmed CALPOLLI Each calpolli elected a captain and a council The council assigned land and houses, and
collected taxes It also had the responsibility of keeping the neighbourhood clean, washing the streets, and up keeping the buildings SOCIAL HIERARCHY Emperor Nobility & Priests Nobles
Merchants, Artisans & Soldiers Farmers, Fishers, Women Slaves Commoner s SOCIAL HIERARCHY EMPEROR He was treated like a God
He lived in luxury enormous palace with gardens and a private zoo! Servants carried him through the streets on a platform draped in ocelot (nocturnal wildcat) skins However, with great privilege comes great responsibility He was also considered to be the chief priest, commander-in-chief, and head of state
NOBILITY Only 10-15% of the population was nobility; however, they held most the political power and wealth Priests came from the ranks of nobles Noblemen worked as scribes, government officials and teachers NOBILITY Nobles owned their own land and had commoners working on it
The amount of land each noble family owned was based on their social position In cities, the nobles lived separately from the commoners in luxurious homes and had many servants Members of the nobility followed a strict code of behaviour PRIESTS Boys from all classes could study to become priests
However, the top positions were reserved for the nobility Their most important job was to offer human sacrifices to the gods Men in priesthood would not marry Young women could enter the priesthood, but were given specific roles to do with honouring goddesses. COMMONERS Commoners included:
Warriors (next to nobility in social status) Merchants (involved in trading) Farmers Fishers Women
MERCHANTS Make up the richest calpolli in Tenochitilan They went on trading expeditions where they brought luxury goods and acted as spies Their knowledge of geography and layout of foreign cities made them valuable advisors to generals planning attacks Paid taxes
FARMERS/FISHERMAN Grew crops for themselves and the state helped group to survive They also hunted and fished Sold much of what they caught in the market to support their family Gave up a share of their produce in taxes ARTISANS Skilled craftworkers
Mask makers, goldsmiths, and feather workers were the most respected Beautiful fans, headdresses, and tunics created by the feather workers were the most valuable in Aztec society Only members of the nobility were allowed to wear garments of feathers SLAVES
Lowest status; however, no person was born into slavery Could become a slave as a punishment A murderer sentenced to death could instead, upon request of the wife of his victim, be given to her as a slave Those who didnt pay debts could be sold as slaves A father could sell his son into slavery if the son was incorrigible (lazy, disobeyed orders, etc) Slaves often wore a wooden collar around their necks
AZTEC SIGNS OF STATUS Three common ways to determine status: 1. Clothing if you had quetzal feathers, you were considered to be very high up in society (as the feathers were associated to the god, Quetzalcoatl - quality of cloth and patterns on it signified wearers position in society 2. Jewelry
3. Size and location of your house MOVING UP IN SOCIETY Looking at page 179 in your text, record the way(s) in which a member could move up in society below:
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