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Aztec and Mayan Tattoos

Good Morning Speakeasy Readers!

Hope everyone had a great week, I myself am feeling very refreshed after coming back from my vacation in the small beach-town Rocky Point in Penasco, Mexico. This week is going to be cool and cloudy in Los Angeles, but looks like there’s lots of fun things to do this weekend. Grab your sweaters and have a great time!

So after spending a little time in Mexico last weekend, I decided to stay on theme for this week's blog post and today I will be talking about Aztec and Mayan tattoos.

The Aztecs and Mayans are two ancient civilizations from Central America that have significantly contributed to the history of tattooing. Both cultures have rich backgrounds, and their unique forms of tattoos were used to symbolize various meanings, such as social status, spiritual beliefs, and cultural identity.

For the Aztec people, art was extremely important and this was no different for the art of tattooing. The Aztecs were known for their intricate designs, often portraying religious icons and mythical creatures. These tattoos were commonly used as marks of distinction among the various social classes. For example, warriors would often adorn their bodies with tattoos of ferocious animals such as jaguars and eagles to show their status as fierce fighters. The nobility would often feature tattoos that represented their lineage and ancestry. The location of the tattoo was also important as they believed the body had energetic centers. It was thought that certain spots had flows of energy that could enhance communication with gods. These spots included the stomach, chest, and hands.

Similarly, the Mayans also used tattoos to indicate social status and religious symbols. Mayan tattoos were believed to have powerful meanings and were often considered sacred. For example, tattoos showcasing the Mayan sun god were reserved for the royalty and nobility, while the general population had to settle for more modest designs. Mayans were known to love all different types of body modifications and were usually encouraged to get tattooed, but many did not as it was a very painful process. People would often get sick from the process and it would take a long time to recover.

The designs of Aztec and Mayan tattoos were unique in that they were highly detailed and intricate, often consisting of a vast array of different shapes, symbols, and patterns. These tattoos were often made using sharp bone or cactus needles and ink made from charcoal.

Despite the significant impact of Aztec and Mayan tattoos on the world of tattooing, the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century led to the decline and eventual disappearance of these traditional tattooing practices. The Spainards saw the tattooing practice as something dark or even a link to the devil. When it comes to Mayan tattoos, most of the historical accounts of their tattoo customs come from Spanish colonists, but through Mayan art, writing, and architecture, we can get a fuller picture to a certain extent.

As for Mayan or Aztec themed tattoos today, it is very important to get a tattoo artist who is highly skilled in these types of tattoos. Aztec tattoos are often done in black and grey and have a 3D effect that takes a special skill to accomplish.

The history of Aztec and Mayan tattoos is a fascinating glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Central America. These intricate and meaningful tattoos not only served as marks of distinction but also represented a deep connection to tradition and spirituality, highlighting the immense cultural contributions these societies made to ancient tattooing practices. Today modern day interpretations of these tattoos are a great way for some to pay homage to their ancestry and there’s a lot of history and beautiful symbolism to pull from.

Until next time my fellow apes,

Peter Hernandez


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