The Aztec Indians were a Native North American people that resided in Mexico during the 14th, 15th, and 16th century. They are one of the most noted Native groups in history, and have long been studied for their rich history and complex social system.
While the intricacies of Aztec Indian history would take pages upon pages to recount in full, there are certain elements of their history and way of life that are worth considering when learning about their people.
The Aztec civilization was at its peak in 1519, the same year that Hernan Cortes and the Spaniards arrived in Mexico. While many people regard them to be a tall, impressive people that is not the case; as a matter of fact, the Aztecs were relatively small people compared to others. From the studies done of Aztec ruins it appears that women averaged about 4'8" in height and men about 5'2". People are much taller these days, and were taller around other areas of the world. Many historians speculate that this stunted height has to do with the level of nutrition of the average Aztec Indian.
Because of their customs, many people who have not done formal studies into Aztec Indian history might regard the Aztecs as barbaric, uncivilized people and this was not the case. As a matter of fact, they upheld a strict moral code and had strict punishments, usually death, for those who disobeyed. This included things like drunkenness, disorderly conduct, and promiscuity.
Aztec Social System
The Aztecs also had a rather organized social system. There were three organized social classes. They were the Nobility, the Commoners and the Slaves. The nobles enjoyed privileges that no other classes enjoyed, as their social status was a birthright, passed down from generation to generation.
The commoners were the regular people in Aztec society. They carried out the work that was needed to uphold society. This class consisted mostly of the farmers, storekeepers, and tradesmen in society. While they were allowed to own land as a group or family, one individual person was not legally allowed to own land.
Slaves were the lowest class of society in the Aztec community. They had no rights, but were allowed to buy back their own freedom and become commoners.
Aztec Dress Code
Aztecs had a pretty basic dress code. Men usually wore a breechcloth, a piece of material shaped as a rectangle that concealed the genitals and was held together with a belt. Many men also wore a cape or cloak of some type called a tilmatli, and the type of tilmatli worn indicated social status.
Women wore a huipilli, a type of blouse. They also wore a special type of skirt called a cueitl, as well as sandals that denoted their social status, much like the capes the men wore.
The Aztecs were known for war, but it was their way of preserving their way of life. They had a strong and dedicated military, and they formed alliances with other groups of people. It was not until after the arrival of the Spaniards that the end of Aztec civilization actually occurred.