The Aztecs’ Mark on Modern Art and Culture

The Aztec people are one of the most renowned ancient civilizations, whose influences are visible in modern culture to this day. They were ethnic groups from central Mexico who spread throughout most of Mesoamerica between the 14th and 16th centuries. They are best known for their religious practices, architecture, art and mythology and have managed to put a powerful stamp on numerous artistic fields.

Aztec Culture and Religion

Many cultural elements that we identify as belonging to the Aztec people actually intermingle with those of other ethnic groups. Cosmographic charts and the Aztec calendar are ones of the best examples of this phenomenon; the latter shares numerous details with the Mayan calendar. The two are the best known and documented from that period and are also considered to be the most complex. They were among the first cultures to view time in a linear manner and define it through a past-present-future formula.

The Aztecs’ religious practices were also complex: they worshiped numerous gods such as Tezcatlipoca, Tlaloc and Quetzalcoatl and practiced extended human sacrifice. It was considered an honor to be sacrificed and there are stories about warriors (like the one whose protagonist is Tlahuicole), who willingly returned to enemy territory after being rescued. Evidence supporting cannibalism among them and other people from the time was also found.

Influences on Modern Culture

Aztec motifs have somehow found their way into the mainstream through some particularly powerful trends. Art, fashion and graphics – mainly all design related fields – have been stricken by the ‘Aztec bug’. Patterns, illustrations, ornaments and much more stand testimony to the infiltration of these ancient elements in modern cultural trends.

Art – Ubiquitous in Aztec Culture

The Aztecs are also recognized for being highly artistic people. Miguel León-Portilla, a renowned Aztec scholar, actually elaborated a theory according to which the true thoughts of the Aztecs are found in their poetry, not ideology. They organized complex dramatic representations and festivals in which song and poetry contests took place.

Proof of their artistic roots is the Coat of Arms of Mexico, inspired by Aztec mythology. There is also an indisputable influence set on the graphic design domain, mainly because the Aztec culture is so rich in inspiration. As a result, there are numerous vector illustrations in which specific Aztec colors and elements can be identified.

Since we’re on this particular topic, I’ve prepared a little surprise for you guys at the end. The team from are launching next week 6 awesome Aztec themed mega packs. Here is a sneak peek from the upcoming design resources and stay tuned for the launch of the entire collection!

Superb article, once again! I find the 'history of art' style articles way more informative and inspiring these days than the usual run of the mill trend bulletins. Keep it up...
The Aztecs’ Mark on Modern Art and Culture
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Olga Maria Mundt
Re: Aztec vector 16 - Could you tell me who this lady is. I am interested in the art work for a cover of a product. Thanks. Olga Maria Mundt


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