The religious significance of tamales in Mexico during the Aztec Late Postclassic period

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The religious significance of tamales in Mexico during the Aztec Late Postclassic period

Type: Bachelor thesis
Title: The religious significance of tamales in Mexico during the Aztec Late Postclassic period
Author: Borssum Waalkes, jan pieter van
Issue Date: 2013-12
Keywords: tamales
Abstract: This thesis has as its main research question; the religious significance of tamales in Mexico during the Late Postclassic Aztec period (1430-1520 CE). This period was chosen because there are many sources on the Aztec society and their religion from 16th century chroniclers. The writers and their work that I used in this study were: The Florentine Codex written by Bernardino Sahagún, and the book of gods and the ancient calendar written by Diego Durán. These chroniclers described the Aztec culture in detail, including the Veintenas (the months of 20 days, containing religious festivals for certain gods), where I have focused my research on. The study shows that the use of tamales in this veintenas, six of which I’ve discussed in the research, clearly are intertwined. Tamales were used in two ways in the rituals, as special foods, which could only be eaten on those days, or as offerings to the gods. What this meaning was, or as Rappaport (1999) calls it the sign, of the tamales in this veintenas, comes from a number of factors. I have argued that there were three levels that gave off this sign within the ritual. The first one was that tamales are usually made from maize, which was perceived as sacred and special. This was also the Aztecs primary source of food. The second signal was that tamales were eaten by a large part of the population on special days during the veintenas or on celebrations such as for births and weddings, so it was seen as special food. The third signal came from the filling that was used in the tamales. I have argued that these were closely intertwined with the deity, who was celebrated in the veintena. I also suggest that more research needs to be done into food in general in Aztec society, as this can give us more insights about their way of life and their religion.
Supervisor: Rojas Martinez Gracida, Areceli
Faculty: Faculty of Archaeology
Department: Archeologie (Bachelor)
Specialisation: Indian American
ECTS Credits: 10
Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/22563
 

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