The Aztec script

The Aztec Empire held sway of what is today Central Mexico.The Aztec people (a.k.a. the Mexica or the three tribes confederation) moving in from the north occupied and settled the area displacing previous populations. The newcomers spoke Nahuatl and had no writing for their language upon arrival.In their new home they found several pictographic scipts related to each other used by many nations for hundreds of years already.The Aztecs adopted a similar writing system to these but in a degraded form.It was used only for specific purposes such as calendars,marking important historic events and dates.Unlike neighbouring similar scripts like the Maya script it was never used for writing long text. They used numerous coroulful pictures for their writing system to record Nahuatl-the native name for the Aztec language.During the pre-Columbian era many manuscripts of various fields were produced in this script. After the Spanish conquest of Mexico (16nth century A.D) the traditional symbols and were eventually replaced by a Spanish-based alphabet. who invented it The Aztec god Quetzalkoatl was considered the inventor of writing.His name means ‘snake covered in green feathers’.He was one of the three main Aztec deities,creator of the world,humanity,culture,god of the morning star,master of nature,god of twins,agriculture and science.
Quetzakoatl was depicted as a bearded man in a mask,with disproportionaly big lips, wearing a jaguar hat and feathers of a Quetzal-the holy bird of the Atzetcs. This beautiful script of elaborate images-as well as other Aztec cultural achievements-were adopted from the Mayans in a degraded form. burning of books The Spanish after their arrival wasted no time in destroying the native culture and their writings of course.Thousands of Aztec books were burned as they were considered pagan works of evil.Nowadays only a handful of Aztec books survive in the old script.These books are known as the Aztec codexes. Despite this mass destruction of Pre-colombian Aztec writings, manuscripts in the Aztec language did not stop being produced.But this time it had many notes in Spanish along with the drawings.These documents were produced by Spanish priests with the help of Aztec natives. There was a rich tradition of Aztec literature before the Spanish arrival which continued and flourished well after. some features of Atzec writing The Aztec alphabet is basically a pictographic system with hieroglyphic elements and up until recently Aztec writing was not considered a fully developed writing system. But, recent advances on the matter showed it was much more advanced than previously thought-many syllabic and even phonetic (they mark a single sound) drawings have been identified in the script which were used in along with the pictographs. The symbols where not used systematically and there was no fixed direction to write them. Names were written in a way based on the Rebus principle-words were formed by putting together various images which stood for individual parts of the word.
Rebus principle- name of ruler Itzcoatl
The –tl suffix -found in so many Aztec words- is an article and was usually not recorded by any symbol. A number of symbols where gradually standardized and were used to write only prefixes and suffixes.Certain symbols have been identified as phonetic changing the previous view we had about the script as being exclusively logographic with some syllabographic features. Hieroglyphic characters were used mainly for numbers, in calendars and to note some specific or abstract meanings like moon,sun,sky,death,life,etc. The prefered material for writing was refined leather or bark paper folded like an accordion for keeping. Signs for the Aztec calendar There were 20 characters used for the Aztec calendar.Each sign marked a day of the twenty-day month in the calendar.
Some of the Aztec day signs
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