You Wouldn't Want to Be An Aztec Sacrifice!

You Wouldn't Want to Be An Aztec Sacrifice!

Gruesome Things You'd Rather Not Know

Book - 2001?
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A humorous and gory look at the ancient Aztec tradition of sacrificing enemy warriors to the gods.
Publisher: New York : Franklin Watts, [2001?]
ISBN: 9780531146026
Characteristics: 32 p. : col. ill., map ; 25 cm


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Jun 22, 2018

There are multiple disturbing features within this book. As a Mexia Chichimecano sociolinguist and educator, I recommend the library to remove this book from its collection.

Si eres mexica como yo, no permitas que este autor australiana cuente una historia falsificada a nuestros hijos. If you are Mexica like me, do not let this Australian author tell a falsified story to our children.

The author is clearly taking a historical fetishist approach to Aztec people and culture by intensely scrutinizing a single aspect of the Aztecs. In describing the Aztecs solely as "ruthless, fearsome overlords" the author is objectifying them as death-obsessed. Death is a very important aspect of many Mexica cultures, but European descended historians often fail to remove their own cultural biases to how death is viewed by those they are studying. This has very clearly happened here.

The illustrator has also displayed aspects of anti-blackness and colorism. The most violent character in the book is portrayed with the darkest skin. In fact, this figure is the only dark-skinned person in the entire book. This directly perpetuates anti-blackness and colorism by subconsciously informing children that darker skin equates to something more evil, more dangerous, and/or more fearsome. This alone should be reason enough to remove this book from the collection.

There are also historical inaccuracies within this book. The author states that 20,000 men were sacrificed when the Great Temple (Templo Mayor) was dedicated in 1487. The 1487 version of the Templo Mayor is actually the 6th re-consecration where sacrificial numbers were actually more like 4,000. Additionally, the author is grossly mistaken in her recommendation to "[h]old your nose when priests are near. They stink of soot, smoke, stale incense, rotten flesh, and dried blood." Ritual bathing and general hygiene were of common practice to the Aztecs. This portrayal of religious figures is racist, unfounded, offensive to religious Mexica practitioners, and simply inaccurate. The act of depicting a culture's religious figures in such a false light is pure degradation. There is also an inaccuracy in the telling of the "Aztec" creation story. The first world was not destroyed by a hungry tiger. There have never been tigers that are indigenous to Mesoamerica. The Tiger (Panthera tigris) is native to Southeast Asia, and the only Panthera relative in Mesoamerica is the Jaguar (Panthera onca)... which is the actual animal from the real creation story.

While completely demonizing Aztec people, the author also commits indigenous erasure. The author "others" the central character of the story and erases indigenous people in not providing information about where this central character comes from. As the majority of European descended historians have done, this leaves young readers stuck at the gates of these historians' fetishist approach in discourse to the general public about Mesoamerica. Instead of shedding light on the diversity of Mesoamerica, the only apparent desire here is perpetuate a false Aztec monolith and "savage" narrative while erasing everyone else.

Apr 19, 2016

When writing about another culture, it's especially important to guard against what anthropologists call ethnocentricity. Unfortunately, this book is loaded with ethnocentric and sensationalist scenarios. It's not really clear what the author's intentions are, but the book rips one cultural act out of context and paints the Aztec as a violent, bloodthirsty group. This kind of writing simply spreads prejudice.


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