The Mexica mother was valued as a procreator but subordinate to man

Of the figurines recovered in most of the Mesoamerican sites, the vast majority of which were excavated and valued by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), predominates in 90% the representation of the womenwhich —the majority of specialists consider— is a recognition of their reproductive capacity and, therefore, of perpetuating the species.

Archaeological evidence, together with documentary evidence, reveals the abundance of representations that were made of mothers in pre-Hispanic times, both in pictographs of codices and in clay figurines. However, in the context of warlike pre-Hispanic societies, such as the Mexica, women had a subordinate role.

The researcher of the Directorate of Ethnology and Social Anthropology (DEAS) of the INAHMaría J. Rodríguez Shadow, refers that the debate on the social situation of women in ancient times has always been present, but, in her opinion, there is incontrovertible evidence on the position of female subordination in the warrior societies of Mesoamerica.

the author of the books The Aztec woman and the Mayan women of yesteryearindicates that, for the mexica culture the main interest was the expansion of the territory through invasions, and for this purpose, the children had to be prepared for combat.

Illustration EE: Courtesy INAH

Due to the above, the position of women was secondary, as they were not integrated into these activities, through which prestige and power were achieved. There was a recognition of the mother as the legitimizer of the ruling lineages, through procreation, but there was no equal assessment of the activities carried out by women and men.

Mexica society created a pantheon based on male gods hierarchized and subordinate to the warrior god Huitzilopochtliand female deities, all of them.

In this sense, the activities of mothers in pre-Hispanic times were circumscribed —as described by chroniclers and observed in the archaeological record—, to the culinary arts, the education of children, manual labor and, of course, reproduction. biological. Infertile women were vilified, because as part of an agricultural and warlike society, labor force was needed to expand the payment of tribute to the tlatoani, and to have a large army to extend the Tenochca empire.

The ideal was large families and, preferably, with several sons. The mothers were in charge of teaching the offspring to behave according to their gender and social class; girls were advised not to look directly into the eyes, to keep their eyes closed. Educational training was part of that unavoidable task that women had considering the gender division of labor.

Rodríguez Shadow cites that, in the Codex Mendoza, in whose pictographs the way in which the education of infants was carried out is observed, the mothers appear showing the girls the punishments they will receive if they omit homework or fail in their behavior. They were also taught to spin, weave, cook, among other tasks culturally assigned to their gender and age.

They were taught about the submission they should show, their place in production, respect for moral norms and class privileges, recognition of male superiority, marital authority, military brutality. In general, the acceptance of the established order, points out the specialist in her book La mujer azteca.

According to their social class, the Mexica woman exercised different roles. The tributaries were exploited as domestic workers at the service of the group in power, and as reproducers; the nobles were destined to the procreative function, without being able to neglect domestic activities and textile work for that reason. Likewise, those who died in childbirth were raised to warriors.

Photo EE: Courtesy INAH

Their relative isolation and lack of training similar to that of men limited their access to authority and power. They did not hold political positions, this only happened in some Mayan societies and sporadically.


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