Sacred Consumption: Food and Ritual in Aztec Art and Culture

Author(s): Elizabeth (Liz) Moran

Year: 2016


This paper is about food, its depiction in Aztec art, and its ritual use in Aztec culture. Integral to a society on many levels, food is often a cultural reflection, mirroring what is significant to a particular group. The representation of food and its consumption is prevalent in the surviving artworks created in various media by the Aztecs of Central Mexico in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The symbolic use of food and consumption is also evident in Aztec ritual, another subject recorded in several sixteenth-century sources of both native and European origin. This study focuses on the series of eighteen public ceremonies that the Aztecs performed throughout the year. Called veintenas by Spanish chroniclers, these ceremonies are connected to both the agricultural cycle and the 365-day solar calendar. The way food was incorporated in veintena ceremonies is significant; sixteenth-century sources record the use of food not only as a part of the feasting, but as a part of the ritual performances organized by the Aztecs. This investigation hopes to examine and compare the use and depiction of food as ritual in various sixteenth-century written and painted manuscripts. Additionally, the question of audience will be addressed.

Cite this Record

Sacred Consumption: Food and Ritual in Aztec Art and Culture. Elizabeth (Liz) Moran. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404289)


Consumption Food Ritual

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min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;