Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Aztec Jaguar

The Aztecs were serious about sacrificing.  They built these large pyramids and would bring in several prisoners to chop off their heads.  The heads would then roll down the steep steps of the pyramid to the glory of all.  To make matters worse, many had their hearts cut out pre-decapitation.  I'm sure, however, you are asking yourself, "Where did they get all these people to sacrifice?"  That's not a bad question.  It was not, as in our earlier post on the Lord of the Universe's case, a mass of volunteers eager to have their hearts ripped out.  Nor was it all prisoners of war.  Instead, the Aztec priests relied on one of the Aztec's greatest warriors - the Jaguar.

No, not the big cat.  This warrior got his name from the cat and wore the cat skins.  Much like the beserker of Norse fame wore nbear skins to freak out their enemies, so the jaguar wore jaguar skins to freak out their victims.  These guys were pretty awesome in war and down right horrifying in sacrifice harvesting.  The jaguar was picked for its fierceness and because it was a symbol of Tezcatlipoca, the god of night.

As you can see in the picture, the head of the jaguar is used as a helmet and they carry a small shield.  Check out that weapon.  That is what truly inspired me to look more into it.  It is not a sword.  It is not a club.  It is a weapon on its own and boy is it tough.

The weapon is called a macuahuitl.  It is made of wood and can be made for one handed use or two handed use.  It is about 4 feet long.  The flat part of the blade was used much like a club would be to knowck someone over the head and immobilize them for transportation back to the pyramid.  The edges of the macuahuitl were pieces of obsidian.  If you don't know what that is, it is a black glass formed in volcanoes.  It is sharper than sharp.  Razor sharp is not as sharp as obsidian.  That's how sharp it is.  Sometimes they used big pieces and sometimes it was several smaller pieces.  Either way, this gave the blade some serioud cutting power.  It was sharp enough to cut the head off a man with ease.  One account by a Spanish warrior said that it could decapitate a horse.  A TV show, Deadliest Warrior put it to the test on a ballistic gel horse and it did cut through much of the head.  Maybe in the right hands it could do wonders.

The power of this blade was such that not only would it slice (but not dice, mind you), but it would also tear as the blade was removed, causing much more damage than a sword.  This could easily be used to kill or to just chop at a victim's leg in order to make them unable to run away.

Either way, the gods will get their sacrifice!

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