Mesoamerican Culture, History, and Religion

Soustelle’s Daily Life Of The Aztecs

I was doing some digging online today, and had quite a stroke of good luck — I found a complete copy of Jacques Soustelle’s classic The Daily Life of the Aztecs online! The English edition of the entire book is available to read for free on Questia. Soustelle was a famous French anthropologist who specialized in studying the Aztecs before the Conquest, one of the bright lights in Mesoamerican studies of the mid 20th Century. His Daily Life of the Aztecs is one of his best-known works on this subject, covering a wide variety of details of Mexica life in great Tenochtitlan, ranging from architecture to agriculture, religion, economics, and the conduct of war. Though somewhat dated (written in 1962), most of the information in this book still remains quite useful, and his respectful, non-sensationalistic tone is refreshing. As it predates the rediscovery of the Templo Mayor (Huey Teocalli) in the 1970’s, it sadly doesn’t include much on that famous structure. Still, I strongly recommend giving it a read, as it remains one of the better general histories and anthropological overviews of life in Precolumbian Mexico.

Go HERE to read The Daily Life of the Aztecs in full!

Incidentally, I have now activated the Pre-Conquest History page in the History section of this blog’s static pages and placed an additional permanent link to this book there.

9 responses

  1. Xuchilpaba

    How you did this, IDK, but it amazes me. I bought the book about a year ago… If only I knew it was actually online for FREE.

    October 8, 2008 at 3:17 PM

  2. cehualli

    Sometimes I just get lucky. 🙂 I bought a secondhand copy in August, but I don’t regret it. It was $7, and I like having physical print books in my hands to read. But electronic editions are damn handy for rapidly scanning for exact facts, so it’s still useful to us for that!

    Too bad my PTO’s up and I’m back at work this week, I’ve got plenty more stuff to write, including an analysis of a short study on a contemporary Huaxtec worship ceremony I tripped over on FAMSI while looking for something else.

    October 9, 2008 at 2:27 AM

  3. Xuchilpaba

    Not just exact facts, but citing sources so other people aren’t suspicious of the actual fact too! :p

    would the Huaxtec ceremony involved Tlazolteotl?

    October 9, 2008 at 12:37 PM

  4. cehualli

    Hehe, true!

    Nope, it involved one of the local mountain deities considered to be among the Tlaloque. I look forward to writing this one, I was stunned by some of the small details of the rituals that matched what I’ve been doing on my own for months, conceived purely on intuition. Weird.

    October 10, 2008 at 12:51 AM

  5. cehualli

    Mmm, also, speaking of Tlazolteotl, there were some interesting references regarding Her regalia and some of the ritual warrior uniforms worn by the Aztecs in one of Anawalt’s essays in my lovely new Mendoza set. Certain details of Her clothing pop up in some of their honorific military regalia.

    If you’re particularly interested in Her, I’d scan through the Burkhart book I have linked up in the Featured Research sidebar. Burkhart spends a fair while talking about Her intersection with morality, and gets into some of the symbology of decay and fertilizer that underlies the fluffy cotton ornaments on Her clothing. Makes me realize just how intricate and how much meaning the clothing worn by the Teteo in traditional depictions communicates. Fascinating stuff.

    October 10, 2008 at 12:56 AM

  6. Xuchilpaba

    Yep makes sense! She’s supposed to be the same as Toci, who has war associations. I think you have Duran’s gods and rites, and he has a pic of Toci with a shield and a weapon and her hair cut short(a mark of a warrior). Tlazolteotl happens to be one of my fave deities, so i would be happy about any info you put up. Thanks. ^_^

    >I was stunned by some of the small details of the rituals that matched what I’ve been doing on my own for months, conceived purely on intuition

    Oh i have had that happen before, amongst other things that later i found out were from history. it’s creepy, isn’t it?

    October 10, 2008 at 2:00 PM

  7. cehualli

    Huh, I hadn’t come across the concept of Her identity with Toci, though I do recall Toci being associated with war. I don’t currently have Duran’s work, but there are plenty of notes throughout the FC where Her impersonator makes appearances, and is described as bearing a shield and leading mock attacks throughout the city. Definitely not a goddess to be trifled with!

    And yeah, it is pretty wild!

    October 12, 2008 at 3:41 AM

  8. Tasha

    OK so I am in a huge debate with several ignorant americans about the immigration laws..I feel it should be open borders,,PERIOD.but they keep insisting no..then one pops off and say mexicans are going to try and take their land back,,this subject i was ignorant to so I went to find out just what the heck they were talking about. I came across the Mexica Movement. Which lead me to doing some history research. I never knew any this history. Thank you for making it easy for me to learn this and share it with the arrogant ignorant retards I call my fellow americans. If you could suggest and other reads i would appreciate it,,ty!

    April 7, 2011 at 11:47 AM

  9. Pingback: What Aztec civilization can teach modern Americans about religion and culture « Keith Watkins Historian

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