The artist of this image is trying to explain the heart sacrifice, a culture that was dominant among the Aztecs. The sacrifice was done on a temple pyramid. The heart was placed in close contact with the feather banner, and offered to the sun. The victims of this exercise were not expressly considered to be ordinary mortals, but as a representation of gods in myths. They could be equated to a deity impersonator. The human beings who were victims could be transformed into an embodiment of a god who was residing on earth.
The most important figures in the image are represented by priests that brought the individuals that were to be sacrificed. The arranger among them played a crucial role placing the person to be offered to the god on the sacrificial stone. In this artwork, the fire priest is holding the sacrificial knife that he is using to cut open the captive`s breast, followed by seizing of the heart and dedicating towards the direction of the sun rays (Smith 27). The victim’s body is rolled down the stairs of the temple which is evident in this piece of art from the previous victim of the sacrifice down the staircase.
The individuals in this image can be located with regards to the different responsibilities they held in the commencement of a heart sacrifice. It was a cultural practice where the enemy’s warriors were captured and sponsored by the captors to be sacrificed where in return they gained prestige (Townsend 34). The artist wanted to show how human sacrifices were used as a form of political propaganda with the aim of using captured soldiers during the coronation of kings. It depicted superiority and the capability of Aztec empire in events where enemy rulers had been invited.
- Smith, Michael E. The Aztecs. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. Print.
- Townsend, Richard F. The Aztecs. Vol. 107. Thames & Hudson, 2009.