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Nahuatlan

mexico, civilization, aztec, southern and developed

NAHUATLAN (n5-wiltlk1n) STOCK. An American linguistic group centred about the southern pa rt of the central plateau of Mexico, but with isolated tribes farther to the south, almost to the Isthmus of Panama. The Nahuat lan stock, in the commonly accepted scope of the term, includes the Nalma proper or Aztec (q.v.) in and adjoining the valley of Mexico (States of Mexico and Puebla). the Thisealtee Tla xca la ) . the Cu itlat eeo ( Mich/paean). the Cora. the Iluichol (Jalisco). the Acaxee (Sinaloa and Durango). the Alaguilae. the Pipit (Guate mala and Salvador). the Niquiran (Nicaragua), and the Seglla COS Int Rica), with allincrous subtriltes and dialects. Traditional and lin guistic evidence makes the Nahuatlan emigrants from the north, who acquired most of their culture (ruin contact with the superior Mayan and Tarasean civilization after establishing them selves in the southern part of the peninsula. As their social condition advanced, the simple primi tive system of ruling chiefs developed in sonic eases, particularly among the Aztec, into a regular hereditary monarchy. Descent and in heritance, both of alike and property, were in the male line, lint land was held by the elan, and marriage was regulated by gentile laws of kinship. Agriculture was the basis of national existence and was governed by strict laws. while the arts of weaving. pottery, and architecture reached a of perfection. Gold, silver, and copper were worked. and a bronze alloy has been reported. but the ordinary tools and implements were still of stone or obsidian.

'Religious rites were observed with elaborate and imposing ceremonials, conthieted by priestly or ders of both sexes, which controlled also the (411W:it i011 of the children. At Tenochtitlan or Alexico. the capital of the Aztec Empire, thou sands of captives were annually devoted to the bloody rites of human sacrifice and eannibalism in honor of the god of war. Literature was extensively cultivated in the form of pictograph records and rituals. which were painted in bril liant colors upon hooks of maguey paper or dressed skins, very similar to those in use among the Maya. The calendar, which was the common property not only of the southern Nahuatlan nations, but also of several neighboring peoples, recognized the year of 363 days, and may have been of Maya origin, although developed along different lims. The .Nahuatlan are now repre sented by nearly two million people, most of whom, although subjugated and to a certain extent Christianized. still occupy their ancient territories in nearly their ancient fashion, having adopted but little of the newer civilization in the place of that destroyed by the conqueror. The principal sources of information upon the history and civilization of the Nahuatlan tribes are: Sahagun. Historia general de las eosas de Nueva Espafia (Mexico, ]S29-30), and Prescott, History of the Conquest of Mexico (New York, 1843). See Coml.'s; MEXICO; _MONTEZUMA ; and tribal headings.