Aztec Art

The Paintings, Drawings, Sculptures, and Pottery of the Ancient Aztecs

Ancient Aztec art was primarily a form of religious expression and a means for paying tribute to their gods. In addition, various forms of Aztec art were used to assist in communication. These beautifully crafted designs are still admired today. Aztec art such as pictographs, paintings and warrior drawings can still be seen on the walls of their temples and within their ancient artifacts.

Aztec Art and Pottery

Pottery was not only useful to the Aztecs; it was also an important religious craft within the Aztec arts. Pottery of all shapes and sizes depicted a variety of designs that were meaningful to the Aztec culture and religion. The designs typically placed on the pottery were meant to depict or pay reverence to specific Aztec gods or to represent an Aztec tribe.


Aztec Art and Sculpture

In addition to the pottery made of clay, the Aztecs showed their deep religion through a variety of sculptures made of stones. They spent days carving freestanding idols as well as bas-relief wall sculptures to be placed within their temples. In general, the stone sculptures were created to represent their gods or the sacrificial victims. In fact, the Aztecs meticulously carved small yet realistic figures of animals and people out of jade, obsidian, and quartz.

An Aztec Totem Statue

Aztec Totem Statue

The calendar stone is perhaps the most famous sculpture in Aztec art history. This sculpture weighs an amazing 22 metric tons and is 12 feet in diameter. The face of the sun god can be found carved in the center of the stone. Circular bands symbolizing the heavens and the days are located around the face.

Art and Aztec Drawings

A famous form of Aztec art is the ancient pictographs. Pictographs were small pictures that represented objects or sounds. These Aztec drawings were used extensively within their counting system. Unlike the base-10 counting system used in modern societies, the Aztec counting system was based on 20. A picture of a flag was used to represent this number. A picture of a fir tree was used to represent 400 and a picture of a pouch represented 8000. This highly advanced form of Aztec art was also used to record their history and to conduct business.


Aztec Art and Rituals

Aztec craftsmen were also called upon to create a variety of specialized items to be used in their religious ceremonies and other rituals, such as Aztec masks and special Aztec warrior art. The designs of the Aztec warrior art were often used as the basis for tattoos representing various warrior accomplishments. Often, these tattoos were added to the bodies of warriors during special rituals and ceremonies. The mask designs generally depicted gods or important people within the Aztec culture. Through the remains of Aztec art still found today combined with the records left by these fascinating people, historians are able to gain a thorough understanding of this once powerful ancient culture.