With Aztec clothing, you get to see a part of the Aztec civilization that ruled ancient Mexico in the 1400s and early 1500s. The Aztecs had left an everlasting impression on Americans. They were the architects of large cities and their religious inclinations are really worth mentioning.
They built towering temples, crafted huge structures and were engaged in colourful ceremonies as part of their religious practices. The Aztec civilization ended in 1521, with the Spaniards taking over.
Aztec’s clothing not only served the mere bodily purposes but were used to differentiate between different social classes. The clothing determined the social status and valour the wearer used to enjoy in the Aztec society. The significance of their clothing is a much researched and talked about issue.
Clothing for women comprised loose, sleeveless blouse and a wraparound skirt. Men on the other hand wore clothes covering their hips, with a cloak knotted over one shoulder. Clothing for the rich were weaved out of cotton. Their poorer counterparts wore clothes made from maguey fibres.
Another vital significance of dresses was protection during warfare. The Aztec army draped themselves with extensive armours. For the commoners, clothing signified modesty and distinction between social classes. The dresses of nobles were different from that of commoners or slaves.
There were four social classes in Aztec civilization - nobles, commoners, serfs and slaves. The dress material for the nobles was cotton. A noble’s dress included symbols characteristic to their high social rank. For example, gold was used to adorn a noble’s dress. Usage of feathers on head and robes were another notable accessory.
Clothing for commoners and serfs were nearly the same. They had fewer accessories and the colours were less bright. Commoner men wore something that resembled a loincloth and the women wore simple cotton dresses. Slaves dressed scantily. However, they did wear jewels in their faces. A skirt of feathers was all for them.
The Aztec women practised the weaving and spinning of clothes. The women not only weaved the clothing for their entire family, but also contributed the woven material as part of tax payment to the rulers. Thus, a study of Aztec clothing gives us a vivid picture of the culture and socio-economic fabric of the Aztecs.
Joseph Paige © 2006