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    Mar 04

    Different types of jewelry do not only beautify and express creativity, but they also tell fabulous stories, such as those of the Aztecs.

    The Aztecs were a nomadic Native American ethnic group who found their way to Mexico in the thirteenth century. Popular massive structures including pyramids, cities, and temples were built by the Aztecs in certain parts of Mexico.. By the fourteenth and the early fifteenth centuries, they established one of the most highly developed civilizations in Latin America. During their time, their cities were as large as those of Europe, and several Indian industries at present can be traced back to this tribe.

    The Industry

    untitled-49.jpgThe Aztecs were also one of the native tribes who had great appreciation for jewelry. Generally, the Aztecs decorated their bodies with pieces of jewelry as a fashion statement and to show their social status. Furthermore, certain types of jewelry were made by the Aztecs as a form of offering to their god – the Aztec Serpent God. Eventually, as the population of the tribe grew bigger, jewelry making became a primary source of industry, aside from agriculture. This was the reason why neighboring countries and towns were afraid that the Aztecs would attack them in search for minerals and stones.

    These stones and gems weren’t only used to adorn their bodies. They were also utilized to create beautiful temples and pyramids.

    The Jewelry of the Ancient Aztecs

    The Aztec artists and jewelers instantly attributed their skill to their Spanish conquistadors. When it comes to inlaying various kinds of stones, gems, and other minerals, the Spaniards were considered pros. However, the Aztecs tried to add more religious meaning to their own creations. Moreover, what makes their creation even more interesting was the fact that the Aztecs employed primitive tools in inlaying, manufacturing, and embedding stones into their pieces of jewelry.

    The Role of Spaniards in Aztec Jewelry Making

    The tradition of jewelry making seemed to be only cultivated in ancient Mexico, Central America, and Peru. The Spaniards were one of the first people to judge the quality of Aztec stone and mineral inlaying. The leader of the Aztecs at that time, Montezuma, sent five objects to the Spanish Cortes: a mask made of encrusted with turquoise, a crosier with turquoise mosaic, earrings laden with serpentine, a piece of jewelry made from ocelot skin, and different supplies with precious stones.

    Common Gems and Minerals Found in Aztec Jewelry

    Below are some of the stones and minerals that Aztecs loved to use in their jewelry. These were also present in the objects sent to Spain:

    Gold

    The ancient Aztecs had an extreme appreciation for gold. In fact, golden pieces of jewelry were made purposely for sacred offerings, and these types of jewelry were used by the Native Americans for many years as they had developed different combinations. During the Aztecs’ time, only nobilities were allowed to wear jewelry made of gold. After all, this precious mineral signifies power, wealth, as well as rank. It was then usually decorated with birds’ feathers. Furthermore, the Aztecs wore golden pieces of jewelry to draw attention.

    Silver

    Although gold was widely used and was a favorite mineral of many Aztec jewelers, silver also became another instant favorite. Silver was utilized by the Aztecs to combine with different other minerals to create a more beautiful piece of jewelry.

    Turquoise

    Turquoise has been considered as jewelry and an art-stone by Native American Aztecs. The Aztecs believed in the natural beauty of turquoise, and for them, turquoise stones have natural sense of royalty, perfect to be worn by a great and powerful tribe. They also believed that the turquoise has a very natural charm. Apart from its beauty, the Aztecs believed that the turquoise has magical properties that can make someone feel better or recover from sickness. This was one reason why the turquoise was also a favorite offering to their gods. The Aztecs asked their gods to give them good health.

    The Aztecs do not only believe of the turquoise’s healing power but also of its essence to provide strength and prosperity. Before attacking another tribe, the Aztecs made arrowheads from turquoise for accuracy. In fact, the Aztecs placed higher regard on turquoise than on gold. The ancient Aztecs carved holes in their teeth and used turquoise for decoration.

    Emerald

    The Aztecs probably loved the shades of blue and green. It shows in the jewelry artifacts recovered from the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan. Most of the pieces seen were mainly made of turquoise and emerald. This further tells that the Aztecs were great jewelers. Emerald is known to be very brittle. Hence, to make sure that they can create amazing pieces of jewelry with emerald in them, their hands should be very gentle. Otherwise, the stone was going to break.

    Jewelry and Accessories for Body Piercing

    Interestingly, societal and personal status was expressed through body piercing. Nose piercing and ear piercing started in the ancient times, such as those of the Aztecs. By and large, it became popular as a way of adorning and enhancing the body.

    The Aztecs were one of those who loved piercing. For them, body piercing was a great expression of art. They would add jewelry and other precious stones in their body, particularly in their upper torso. Today, the Aztec’s art of body piercing speaks so much of their love for their culture, power, wealth, and beauty.

    Nowadays, you can find various pieces of Aztec jewelry. There are earrings, rings, toe rings, tongue rings, bracelet, bangles, and necklaces. However, these days, many Aztec jewelries are treated like antique collectibles rather than ornaments. Nevertheless, these types remain to be real works of art, incomparable to the present kinds of jewelry that are manufactured by machines and crafting equipment.

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