Aztec tattoos fall into two basic categories: traditional symbology as used by the Aztecs themselves and modern interpretations of Aztec iconography and imagery. Both forms of tattoo design should retain the distinctive nature of Mesoamerican tribal art, something that a skilled tattoo artist should be able to accomplish. Here are some ideas to consider when looking for an Aztec tattoo design.
Aztec Calendar Tattoos
The Aztec calendar is one of the most striking Aztec images. The famous Calendar Stone, also known as the Mexica Sun Stone, reveals this decorative yet functional calendar in all its glory. Various Aztec symbols (see below) adorn the circular calendar, which in itself represents both linear time and cyclical existence. At the center of the calendar sits the Aztec sun god Tonatiuh, his tongue stuck out in the form of an obsidian blade, waiting to be honored with the blood of human sacrifice.
Aztec calendar tattoos are aesthetically pleasing, powerful and imbued with a great deal of meaning. The calendar, as portrayed by the Sun Stone, is highly detailed. A large canvas is needed in order to do it justice, perhaps making a medium to large back tattoo the best option.
Aztec Sun Tattoos
The importance of the sun to the Aztecs is evident when considering the central location of Tonatiuh, the sun god, in the Calendar Stone. Symbolically, the sun represents life (the sun promotes growth and regeneration) and death (Tonatiuh demanded human sacrifices in order to feed). The Aztec sun is also a symbol of strength in battle. Warriors believed that the sun gave them the power to defeat their enemies on the battlefield – enemies who were in turn sacrificed to the sun god.
Aztec Tattoos – Gods & Supernatural Creatures
With over 100 Aztec gods and supernatural creatures to choose from, this is an area that provides plenty of options for finding the perfect Aztec tattoo design. The Aztecs had gods for almost every naturally occurring feature and creature within their realm, and plenty more from otherworldly dimensions.
Amongst the Aztec gods, tattoos can be found for natural features such as volcanoes, lakes, rivers and the sun and moon. Happiness, healing, fertility, hunting, farming and even drunkenness can also be represented by specific mythological tattoos. There is huge scope here for finding a personally significant design. For more information, including a number of images, take a look at Crystalinks’ “Aztec Gods and Goddesses”.
Aztec Symbols for Small & Simple Aztec Tattoos
The individual symbols incorporated into many Aztec designs (such as those in the Sun Stone) can be used for small tattoos. Simple Aztec skull tattoos, for example, can be based upon the miquiztli death symbol. A bit macabre, perhaps, but quite stylish and, despite its simplicity, distinctly Aztec in design.
These stylish symbols, or glyphs, include representations of monkeys, jaguars, snakes, rabbits, crocodiles, eagles and deer. Further adding to tattoo design possibilities are elemental and conceptual ideograms (graphic symbols) such as those for wind, water, rain, motion, darkness and life (or breath). These symbols make excellent small Aztec tattoos; they can be tattooed anywhere on the body, require little time to draw and can be combined to give a greater overall meaning.
Aztec Warrior & Weapon Tattoos
For more Aztec tattoo ideas, have a look at Aztec Warrior Tattoos Design Ideas & Background. This article provides information about Aztec warrior classes and tattoo design options. The legendary Jaguar and Eagle Warrior classes are covered, as well as lesser known but superior Otontin and Cuahchicqueh elite warriors.
More Related Articles:
- Aztec Body Art – Tattoos, Body Painting, War Paint & Aztec Makeup: this article covers the use of body art within the Aztec civilization itself. Surprisingly, the Aztecs did not use tattoos or body paint to the same extent as many of their neighboring tribes.
- Aztec Tribal Piercings – Aztec Nose Rings, Lip Plugs & Ear Spools: piercings played an important role in Aztec society, particularly within the warrior classes.
More information, including weapons such as the lethal macuahuitl sword, can be found in this Aztec warfare article round-up.