We explain to you what Mixtec culture was, its customs, politics, economics and other characteristics. In addition, its main contributions.
What was the Mixtec culture?
Mixtec culture or Mixtec civilization was one of the oldest Mesoamerican pre-Columbian cultures, predecessor of the current Mexican Mixtec people. It flourished south of the current territory of Mexico. Its time of splendor ended in the tenth century, but the Mixtec people survived until their encounter with the Spanish conquerors in the fifteenth century.
The Mixtec culture shared many features with its Zapotec neighbors, along with those who called themselves "people of the rain." However, each of these cultures undertook their different path, as they integrated into the complex network of Pan-American relations of the time.
Its height was during the Classic Mesoamerican Period (200 AD until 900 AD). It was somehow linked to that of important urban centers such as Teotihuacán and Monte Albán.
Judging by the archaeological traces, its decay occurred due to a process of balkanization of the area, that is, of disintegration in isolated and enmity cultures. This made them vulnerable to pressure from the Aztec Empire first and then from the Spanish conquerors.
See also: Latin America
Location of the Mixtec culture
The Mixtec culture occupied during its history the territory known as La Mixteca ( Ñuu Dzahui, in its language, “Country of rain”), located in southern Mexico, in the territory of the current states of Puebla, Oaxaca and Guerrero .
It is a mountainous region, which this culture occupied in two distinct areas: the low (northwest of Oaxaca and southwest of Puebla) and the high (northwest of Guerrero and west of Oaxaca).
Customs and traditions of Mixtec culture
The Mixtecs shared many features with other Mesoamerican cultures such as the Mayan and the Mexica (Aztec), including many mythological elements and their cult of solar divinity ( Yya Ndicahndí or Taandoco ).
However, the Mixtec religion was characterized by being animistic, and its protective deity was Dzahui, personification of the rain, whose attributes in many ways resemble those of the Tlaloc of the Teotihuacans and Toltecs. Another important deity was that of fire, Huehuetéotl, especially in the low Mixtec.
It is known that the Mixtecs revered their gods with human and animal sacrifices . Its religious leaders had a hierarchical position within society, which was otherwise fundamentally militaristic.
The Mixtecs even developed their own war strategies, their own weapons and were stubborn warriors . This is evidenced in its ceramic art, much of which is still preserved in abundance, and its metal figurines, although metallurgy was a little and late activity in the region.
The language of this culture was Protomixtecan, from which the Mixtec languages still spoken in southern Mexico derive, with such a margin of diversification that the variant cost and the mountain they were practically different languages. The Mixtecs cultivated a pictographic writing, of which some cdicons are preserved.
Economy of the Mixtec culture
Like most Mesoamerican peoples, the Mixtec economy relied mostly on agriculture . Its most important crops were corn, beans, chili and squash, and non-food products such as cotton and cocoa, in regions where the weather allowed.
However, their culture constantly faced the steep relief and water scarcity, typical of the region, so they developed a system of terraced crops, called coo yuu .
They extracted the caliche (calcium carbonate) from nearby mines, and consumed the meat of guajolotes (wild turkey) and xoloitzcuintles (wild dog), abundant in the region and domesticated by various Mesoamerican peoples. They also raised cochineal, a parasitic species of prickly pear cactus, and practiced eventual fishing on the Pacific coast.
Together with other Mesoamerican peoples, the Mixtecs participated in the vast trade network of the region, being important producers of metals, such as magnetite.
Mixtec culture policy
The Mixtec organization was senorial: they generally granted their military leaders the government of civil and economic aspects as well. Some of the most important Mixtec kingdoms were those founded in the 10th century under the government of Ocho Venado Garra de Jaguar, a famous chieftain of the coast, which initiated a vivid expansionist process.
Tututepec (Yacudz a), Tilantongo ( uu Tnoo Huahi Adehui) and uu Cohyo were some of the unified kingdoms under his command. This chief ruled them until his death.
Although sometimes they were allies and other times rivals, Mixtecs and Toltecs had to unite to resist the incursions of the Mexican Empire (also called Aztec), eventually losing important cities to the hosts of Mexico-Tenochtitl n.
For this reason, before the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, many Mixtec lords voluntarily submitted themselves to the command of Spain in exchange for help against the ruthless Aztecs.
Contributions of the Mixtec culture
The Mixtecs left behind important archaeological evidence, as well as a significant contribution to the current imaginary of southern Mexico. Of all this it can stand out:
- The ceramic crafts . Decorated with multiple colors, Mixtec craftsmanship was abundant and striking. Ritual vessels and other ceramic objects still remain, especially in the neighborhoods of Monte Negro and Puebla.
- The goldsmith's . Despite being underdeveloped in the region, the Mixtecs cultivated goldsmithing, especially the work of gold, which they called "excrement of the gods", and which they handled in alloys, carvings and hammered pieces.
- The Day of the Dead Although this famous tradition of Mexican culture does not have a single parent, it is thought that the Mixtecs could have contributed to its preservation, either as a custom or as an inheritance or contagion of other pre-Hispanic peoples of the region, among which there were A lot of syncretism.
- Mixtec codices . Various codices of Mixtec literature are preserved, detailing the genealogies of the most important families, on a leather of deerskin. This is perhaps one of the most important contributions of this culture to the Mesoamerican archeological legacy.
Follow with: Olmec Culture