The Aztecs were a Mesoamerican culture that flourished in central Mexico in the post-classic period from 1300 to 1521. The Aztec peoples included different ethnic groups of central Mexico those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica from the 14th to the 16th centuries. Aztec culture was organized into city-states, some of which joined to form alliances, political confederations, or empires; the Aztec empire was a confederation of three city-states established in 1427, city-state of the Mexica or Tenochca. Although the term Aztecs is narrowly restricted to the Mexica of Tenochtitlan, it is broadly used to refer to Nahua polities or peoples of central Mexico in the prehispanic era, as well as the Spanish colonial era; the definitions of Aztec and Aztecs have long been the topic of scholarly discussion since German scientist Alexander von Humboldt established its common usage in the early nineteenth century. Most ethnic groups of central Mexico in the post-classic period shared basic cultural traits of Mesoamerica, so many of the traits that characterize Aztec culture cannot be said to be exclusive to the Aztecs.
For the same reason, the notion of "Aztec civilization" is best understood as a particular horizon of a general Mesoamerican civilization. The culture of central Mexico includes maize cultivation, the social division between nobility and commoners, a pantheon, the calendric system of a xiuhpohualli of 365 days intercalated with a tonalpohualli of 260 days. Particular to the Mexica of Tenochtitlan was the patron God Huitzilopochtli, twin pyramids, the ceramic ware known as Aztec I to IV. From the 13th century, the Valley of Mexico was the heart of dense population and the rise of city-states; the Mexica were late-comers to the Valley of Mexico, founded the city-state of Tenochtitlan on unpromising islets in Lake Texcoco becoming the dominant power of the Aztec Triple Alliance or Aztec Empire. It was a tributary empire that expanded its political hegemony far beyond the Valley of Mexico, conquering other city states throughout Mesoamerica in the late post-classic period, it originated in 1427 as an alliance between the city-states Tenochtitlan and Tlacopan.
Soon Texcoco and Tlacopan were relegated to junior partnership in the alliance, with Tenochtitlan the dominant power. The empire extended its reach by a combination of trade and military conquest, it was never a true territorial empire controlling a territory by large military garrisons in conquered provinces, but rather dominated its client city-states by installing friendly rulers in conquered territories, by constructing marriage alliances between the ruling dynasties, by extending an imperial ideology to its client city-states. Client city-states paid tribute to the Aztec emperor, the Huey Tlatoani, in an economic strategy limiting communication and trade between outlying polities, making them dependent on the imperial center for the acquisition of luxury goods; the political clout of the empire reached far south into Mesoamerica conquering polities as far south as Chiapas and Guatemala and spanning Mesoamerica from the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans. The empire reached its maximal extent in 1519, just prior to the arrival of a small group of Spanish conquistadors led by Hernán Cortés.
Cortés allied with city-states opposed to the Mexica the Nahuatl-speaking Tlaxcalteca as well as other central Mexican polities, including Texcoco, its former ally in the Triple Alliance. After the fall of Tenochtitlan on August 13, 1521 and the capture of the emperor Cuauhtemoc, the Spanish founded Mexico City on the ruins of Tenochtitlan. From there they proceeded with the process of conquest and incorporation of Mesoamerican peoples into the Spanish Empire. With the destruction of the superstructure of the Aztec Empire in 1521, the Spanish utilized the city-states on which the Aztec Empire had been built, to rule the indigenous populations via their local nobles; those nobles pledged loyalty to the Spanish crown and converted, at least nominally, to Christianity, in return were recognized as nobles by the Spanish crown. Nobles acted as intermediaries to convey tribute and mobilize labor for their new overlords, facilitating the establishment of Spanish colonial rule. Aztec culture and history is known through archaeological evidence found in excavations such as that of the renowned Templo Mayor in Mexico City.
Important for knowledge of post-conquest Nahuas was the training of indigenous scribes to write alphabetic texts in Nahuatl for local purposes under Spanish colonial rule. At its height, Aztec culture had rich and complex mythological and religious traditions, as well as achieving remarkable architectural and artistic accomplishments; the Nahuatl words and mean "people from Aztlan," a mythical place of origin for several ethnic groups in central Mexico. The term was not used as an endonym by Aztecs themselves, but it is
The Aztec religion is the Mesoamerican religion of the Aztecs. Like other Mesoamerican religions, it had elements of human sacrifice in connection with a large number of religious festivals which were held according to patterns of the Aztec calendar. Polytheistic in its theology, the religion recognized a large and increasing pantheon of gods and goddesses. Aztec cosmology divides the world into thirteen heavens and nine earthly layers or netherworlds, each level associated with a specific set of deities and astronomical objects; the most important celestial entities in Aztec religion were the Sun, the Moon, the planet Venus —all of these bearing different symbolic and religious meanings as well as associations with certain deities and geographical places—whose worship was rooted in a significant reverence for the Sun and Moon. One name for the Aztecs is "Warriors of the Sun." Many leading deities of the Aztec pantheon were worshipped by previous Mesoamerican civilizations, gods such as Tlaloc and Tezcatlipoca, who were venerated by different names in most cultures throughout the history of Mesoamerica.
For the Aztecs important deities were the rain god Tlaloc, the god Huitzilopochtli—patron of the Mexica tribe—as well as Quetzalcoatl the feathered serpent, wind god, culture hero, god of civilization and order, elusive Tezcatlipoca, the shrewd god of destiny and fortune, connected with war and sorcery. Each of these gods had their own shrine, side-by-side at the top of the largest pyramid in the Aztec capital Mexico-Tenochtitlan—Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli were both worshipped here at this dual temple, while a third monument in the plaza before the Templo Mayor was devoted to the wind god Ehecatl; the aztec priests had to perform many duties like fasting and performing sacrifices The concept of Teotl is central to the Aztecs. The term is translated as "god", but may have held more abstract aspects of divinity or supernatural energy akin to the Polynesian concept of Mana; the nature of Teotl is a key element in the understanding of the fall of the Aztec empire, because it seems that the Aztec ruler Moctezuma II and the Aztecs in general referred to Cortés and the conquistadors as "Teotl"—it has been believed that this means that they believed them to be gods, but a better understanding of "Teotl" might suggest that they were seen as "mysterious" or "inexplicable".
The many gods of the Aztecs can be grouped into complexes related to different themes. The Aztecs would adopt gods from different cultures and allow them to be worshiped as part of their pantheon – the fertility god, Xipe Totec, for example, was a god of the Yopi but became an integrated part of the Aztec belief system. Other deities, for example Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl, had roots in earlier civilizations of Mesoamerica and were worshiped by many cultures and by many names; some gods embodied aspects of nature. A large group of gods were related to pulque, excess and games. Other gods were associated with specific trades. Many gods had multiple aspects with different names, where each name highlighted a specific function or trait of the god. Two distinct gods were conflated into one, quite deities transformed into one another within a single story. Aztec images sometimes combined attributes of several divinities. Aztec scholar H. B. Nicholson classed the gods into three groups according to their conceptual meaning in general Mesoamerican religion.
The first group he called the "Celestial creativity – Divine Paternalism group", the second, the Earth-mother gods, the pulque gods and Xipe Totec. The third group, the War-Sacrifice-Sanguinary Nourishment group contained such gods as Ome Tochtli, Huitzilopochtli and Mixcoatl. Instead of Nicholson's subtle classification in the following a more impressionist classification is presented. Cultural Gods Tezcatlipoca – means "Smoking Mirror", a panmesoamerican shaman god, omnipotent universal power Quetzalcoatl – means "Feathered Serpent", a panmesoamerican god of life, the wind and the morning star Tlaloc – a panmesoamerican god of rainstorm and thunder or any storm Mixcoatl – means "Cloud Serpent", the tribal god of many of the Nahua people such as the Tlaxcalteca, god of war and hunting Huitzilopochtli – means "Left-handed Hummingbird", the tribal god of the Mexica of Tenochtitlan, the patron god aka the sunNature gods Metztli – the Moon Tlaltecuhtli – means "Earth Lord", goddess of the Earth Chalchiuhtlicue – means "Jade Her Skirt", goddess of springs Centzon Huitznahua – means "The 400 Southerners", gods of the stars Ehecatl - the Wind conflated with Quetzalcoatl and called "Quetzalcoatl-Ehecatl" Gods of creation Ometecutli and Omecihuatl on Heavens or Tonacatecutli and Tonacacihuatl on Earth – the couple creator gods Huehueteotl/Xiuhtecutli – means "Old God" and "Turquoise Lord", god of origin, time and old age Coatlicue/Toci/Teteo Innan/Tonantzin – progenitor goddessesGods of pulque and excess Tlazolteotl – goddess of filth and guilt and of cleansing Tepoztecatl – god of pulque worshipped at Tepoztlan Xochiquetzal – goddess of pleasure and indulgence, sex Mayahuel – goddess of pulque and maguey The Auiateteo: Macuiltochtli Macuilxochitl Macuilcuetzpalin Macuilcozcacuauhtli Macuilmalinalli Centzon Totochtin – "the 400 Rabbits", god of intoxication Ometochtli – means "Two Ra
A calendar is a system of organizing days for social, commercial or administrative purposes. This is done by giving names to periods of time days, weeks and years. A date is the designation of a specific day within such a system. A calendar is a physical record of such a system. A calendar can mean a list of planned events, such as a court calendar or a or chronological list of documents, such as a calendar of wills. Periods in a calendar are though not synchronised with the cycle of the sun or the moon; the most common type of pre-modern calendar was the lunisolar calendar, a lunar calendar that adds one intercalary month to remain synchronised with the solar year over the long term. The term calendar is taken from calendae, the term for the first day of the month in the Roman calendar, related to the verb calare "to call out", referring to the "calling" of the new moon when it was first seen. Latin calendarium meant "account book, register"; the Latin term was adopted in Old French as calendier and from there in Middle English as calender by the 13th century.
A calendar can be on paper or electronic device. The course of the sun and the moon are the most salient natural recurring events useful for timekeeping, thus in pre-modern societies worldwide lunation and the year were most used as time units; the Roman calendar contained remnants of a ancient pre-Etruscan 10-month solar year. The first recorded physical calendars, dependent on the development of writing in the Ancient Near East, are the Bronze Age Egyptian and Sumerian calendars. A large number of Ancient Near East calendar systems based on the Babylonian calendar date from the Iron Age, among them the calendar system of the Persian Empire, which in turn gave rise to the Zoroastrian calendar and the Hebrew calendar. A great number of Hellenic calendars developed in Classical Greece, in the Hellenistic period gave rise to both the ancient Roman calendar and to various Hindu calendars. Calendars in antiquity were lunisolar, depending on the introduction of intercalary months to align the solar and the lunar years.
This was based on observation, but there may have been early attempts to model the pattern of intercalation algorithmically, as evidenced in the fragmentary 2nd-century Coligny calendar. The Roman calendar was reformed by Julius Caesar in 45 BC; the Julian calendar was no longer dependent on the observation of the new moon but followed an algorithm of introducing a leap day every four years. This created a dissociation of the calendar month from the lunation; the Islamic calendar is based on the prohibition of intercalation by Muhammad, in Islamic tradition dated to a sermon held on 9 Dhu al-Hijjah AH 10. This resulted in an observation-based lunar calendar that shifts relative to the seasons of the solar year; the first calendar reform of the early modern era was the Gregorian calendar, introduced in 1582 based on the observation of a long-term shift between the Julian calendar and the solar year. There have been a number of modern proposals for reform of the calendar, such as the World Calendar, International Fixed Calendar, Holocene calendar, the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar.
Such ideas are mooted from time to time but have failed to gain traction because of the loss of continuity, massive upheaval in implementation, religious objections. A full calendar system has a different calendar date for every day, thus the week cycle is by itself not a full calendar system. The simplest calendar system just counts time periods from a reference date; this applies for Unix Time. The only possible variation is using a different reference date, in particular, one less distant in the past to make the numbers smaller. Computations in these systems are just a matter of subtraction. Other calendars have one larger units of time. Calendars that contain one level of cycles: week and weekday – this system is not common year and ordinal date within the year, e.g. the ISO 8601 ordinal date systemCalendars with two levels of cycles: year and day – most systems, including the Gregorian calendar, the Islamic calendar, the Solar Hijri calendar and the Hebrew calendar year and weekday – e.g. the ISO week dateCycles can be synchronized with periodic phenomena: Lunar calendars are synchronized to the motion of the Moon.
Solar calendars are based on perceived seasonal changes synchronized to the apparent motion of the Sun. Lunisolar calendars are based on a combination of both solar and lunar reckonings; the week cycle is an example of one, not synchronized to any external phenomenon. A calendar includes more than one type of cycle, or has both cyclic and non-cyclic elements. Most calendars incorporate more complex cycles. For example, the vast majority of them track years, months and days; the seven-day week is universal, though its use varies. It has run uninterrupted for millennia. Solar calendars assign a date to each solar day. A day may consist of the period between sunrise and sunset, with
Mesoamerican calendars are the calendrical systems devised and used by the pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica. Besides keeping time, Mesoamerican calendars were used in religious observances and social rituals, such as for divination; the existence of Mesoamerican calendars is known as early as ca. 500 BCE, with the essentials appearing defined and functional. These calendars are still used today in the Guatemalan highlands, Veracruz and Chiapas, Mexico. Among the various calendar systems in use, two were central and widespread across Mesoamerica. Common to all recorded Mesoamerican cultures, the most important, was the 260-day calendar, a ritual calendar with no confirmed correlation to astronomical or agricultural cycles; the earliest Mesoamerican calendar to be developed, it was known by a variety of local terms, its named components and the glyphs used to depict them were culture-specific. However, it is clear that this calendar functioned in the same way across cultures, down through the chronological periods it was maintained.
The second of the major calendars was one representing a 365-day period approximating the tropical year, known sometimes as the "vague year". Because it was an approximation, over time the seasons and the true tropical year "wandered" with respect to this calendar, owing to the accumulation of the differences in length. There is little hard evidence to suggest that the ancient Mesoamericans used any intercalary days to bring their calendar back into alignment. However, there is evidence to show Mesoamericans were aware of this gradual shifting, which they accounted for in other ways without amending the calendar itself; these two 260- and 365-day calendars could be synchronised to generate the Calendar Round, a period of 18980 days or 52 years. The completion and observance of this Calendar Round sequence was of ritual significance to a number of Mesoamerican cultures. A third major calendar form known as the Long Count is found in the inscriptions of several Mesoamerican cultures, most famously those of the Maya civilization who developed it to its fullest extent during the Classic period.
The Long Count provided the ability to uniquely identify days over a much longer period of time, by combining a sequence of day-counts or cycles of increasing length, calculated or set from a particular date in the mythical past. Most five such higher-order cycles in a modified vigesimal count were used; the use of Mesoamerican calendrics is one of the cultural traits that Paul Kirchoff used in his original formulation to define Mesoamerica as a culture area. Therefore, the use of Mesoamerican calendars is specific to Mesoamerica and is not found outside its boundaries. In the 260-day cycle 20 day names pairs with 13 day numbers; this cycle was used for divination purposes to foretell unlucky days. The date of birth was used to give names to both humans and gods in many Mesoamerican cultures; each day sign was presided over by a god and many had associations with specific natural phenomena. The exact origin of the 260-day count is not known. One theory is that the calendar came from mathematical operations based on the numbers thirteen and twenty, which were important numbers to the Maya.
The numbers multiplied together equal 260. Another theory is; this is close to the average number of days between the first missed menstrual period and birth, unlike Naegele's rule, 40 weeks between the last menstrual period and birth. It is postulated that midwives developed the calendar to predict babies' expected birth dates. A third theory comes from understanding of astronomy and paleontology; the mesoamerican calendar originated with the Olmecs, a settlement existed at Izapa, in southeast Chiapas Mexico, before 1200 BCE. There, at a latitude of about 15° N, the Sun passes through zenith twice a year, there are 260 days between zenithal passages, gnomons, were found at this and other sites; the sacred almanac may well have been set in motion on 1359 BCE, in Izapa. In the post-classic Aztec calendar the periods of 13 days called in Spanish a trecena were important; the days of a trecena were numbered from 1 to 13. There were some exceptions, such as in the Tlapanec area where they were counted from 2 to 14.
The first day of the trecena, the god, its patron, ruled the following thirteen days. If the first day of a trecena was auspicious so were the next twelve days; this 365-day calendar corresponded was divided into 18'months' of 20 days each, plus 5'nameless' days at the end of the year. The 365 day year had no leap year; the years were given their name in much the same way as the days of the 260-day calendar, 20 names were paired with 13 numbers giving 52 different possibilities for year names In the post-classic Aztec calendar the 20 days called veintenas in Spanish and meztli, meaning moon in Nahuatl, were important. The five unlucky days were called nemontemi in Mexico. Most believe them to have come at the end of each year, but since we do not know when the year started, we cannot know for sure. We do know though, that in the Maya-area these five days were always the last days of the year; the nemontemi were seen as'the useless days' or the days that were dedicated to no
Aztec architecture refers to the architectural remains of the Aztec civilization. Much of what is known about Aztec architecture comes from the structures; these structures have survived for several centuries because of the strong materials used and the skill of the builders. Aztec cities competed to construct the greatest temples in the Aztec empire. In so doing, instead of demolishing an old temple and building a new one at the same site, they built over the old structure; the temples were immense, well-proportioned, beautifully decorated. Some temples have been found to have five layers. Houses were uniform throughout most of only varying in size and ornamentation. Houses were built with were not separated, thus resulting in one large room; the Aztecs viewed craftsmanship and extraordinary work as something of great value. The Aztecs built their houses emulating the mountains, as they believed the mountains protected the rain from coming in and hitting their buildings; the great city Tenochtitlan is a strong example of Aztec architecture.
It is split with each side displaying differing architectural elements. The city had a grid surrounding each side having a platform with stairs; the Hueyi Teocalli was a large temple with a wash basin at the top. This temple was between 100 and 80 meters tall and was the biggest building in the Aztec city Tenochtitlan. Aztec architectural sites include: Malinalco Tenayuca Templo Mayor The Aztec civilization originated in Central America; the architecture of the ancient Aztec architecture reflects that of the natives' traditions, culture and everyday life. The ancient Aztecs relied on cosmology and religion as their main sources of inspiration; the most prominent of features are the Aztec temples which were built for the purpose of appeasing the gods, so many of their features reflect that goal. The temples were terraced pyramids with steep stairs leading up to the main temple; the stairs represented man's ascension to the gods. The sides of the temple were covered with elaborated decorations such as animals and figures of the local mythology, the interiors were painted in vibrant colors and depictions.
A majority of the art depicts guardian spirits. Eagle – representative of the sun and warriors Serpents – represented water or fire Conch shell – an important symbol of fertility Frogs and sea creatures – represented Tlaloc Symbols See further information at http://www.legendsandchronicles.com/ancient-civilizations/the-ancient-aztecs/aztec-architecture/ As seen in prior sections, the Aztecs had advanced knowledge of building techniques. J. A. Joyce, a journalist for The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, states that "The physical geography of Central America was favorable to the rise of the art of building in stone". Aztecs, with only primitive technologies, were skilled with stone and masonry to construct these massive temples. With that, the Aztecs had knowledge of brick and mortar. With this strong combination, they built the massive structures that have withstood the test of time. At the same time, with the high level of stone masonry, the Aztecs knew how to properly build on the local geology and terrain.
The area that this civilization is located in a warm climate. The soil is prone to sink; the Aztecs realized this and built strong stone bases for the temples, similar to how a building or house has a foundation layer in modern time. These foundations made sure that the large structures on top of them would not crumble back into the earth. Aztecs can be seen as great engineers for this reason; the temples were not the only amazing works of engineering the Aztecs constructed. On top of the importance of the temples and their symbolism, the Aztecs had a bustling civilization to take care of, they had advanced knowledge of city planning. The ancient Aztecs used gravity to make a running water system, bringing fresh water to the city grid, they were masters at terracing and tempering the land to the benefits needed. Emily Umberger, a researcher at the University of Arizona, stated that "the land itself was to provide an outlet for the Basin’s growing population and to provide an area of dependable agricultural support".
The Aztecs were masters of changing this land they possessed to benefit the well-being of the civilization. From the artworks, cultural contributions, the common household, the architectural style of the Aztecs always represented a higher power; the Aztecs believed in a religion known as Mesoamerican. This had aspects of human sacrifice. With that, the Aztecs designed their buildings to be functional for everyday life, as well as their religious practices; the temples were designed as an ascending experience. There were multiple torn levels, all different in classes. At the top was the main temple; the idea of ascension was to prepare one's self so that the gods would be pleased when arriving at the top. At the top was where the sacrifices took place, so the Aztecs could be as close to the gods as possible to please them; as for the households, they were uniform to the rest of the civilization. The Aztecs did not want a mismatched civilization; this may displease the gods in the eyes of the Aztecs.
Houses were for all classes. Priests were the only ones with access to the temples. Sadly, with all the beautiful and cultural contributions the Aztecs made, the empire had come to its demise. Matthew Restall, a researcher of The Histor
Bernardino de Sahagún
Bernardino de Sahagún was a Franciscan friar, missionary priest and pioneering ethnographer who participated in the Catholic evangelization of colonial New Spain. Born in Sahagún, Spain, in 1499, he journeyed to New Spain in 1529, he learned Nahuatl and spent more than 50 years in the study of Aztec beliefs and history. Though he was devoted to his missionary task, his extraordinary work documenting indigenous worldview and culture has earned him the title as “the first anthropologist." He contributed to the description of the Aztec language Nahuatl. He translated the Psalms, the Gospels, a catechism into Nahuatl. Sahagún is best known as the compiler of the Historia general de las cosas de la Nueva España—in English, General History of the Things of New Spain—; the most famous extant manuscript of the Historia General is the Florentine Codex. It is a codex consisting of 2,400 pages organized into twelve books, with 2,500 illustrations drawn by native artists using both native and European techniques.
The alphabetic text is bilingual in Spanish and Nahuatl on opposing folios, the pictorials should be considered a third kind of text. It documents the culture, religious cosmology, ritual practices, society and history of the Aztec people, in Book 12 gives an account of the conquest of Mexico from the Tenochtitlan-Tlatelolco point of view. In the process of putting together the Historia general, Sahagún pioneered new methods for gathering ethnographic information and validating its accuracy; the Historia general has been called "one of the most remarkable accounts of a non-Western culture composed," and Sahagún has been called the father of American ethnography. Fray Bernardino was born Bernardino de Rivera 1499 in Spain, he attended the University of Salamanca, where he was exposed to the currents of Renaissance humanism. During this period, the university at Salamanca was influenced by Erasmus, was a center for Spanish Franciscan intellectual life, it was there that he joined the Order of Friars Franciscans.
He was ordained around 1527. Entering the order he followed the Franciscan custom of changing his family name for the name of his birth town, becoming Bernardino de Sahagún. Spanish conquistadores led by Hernán Cortez conquered the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan in 1521, Franciscan missionaries followed shortly thereafter in 1524. Sahagún was not in this first group of twelve friars, which arrived in New Spain in 1524. An account, in both Spanish and Nahúatl, of the disputation that these Franciscan friars held in Tenochtitlan soon after their arrival was made by Sahagún in 1564, in order to provide a model for future missionaries. Thanks to his own academic and religious reputation, Sahagún was recruited in 1529 to join the missionary effort in New Spain, he would spend the next 61 years there. During the Age of Discovery, 1450–1700, Iberian rulers took a great interest in the missionary evangelization of indigenous peoples encountered in newly discovered lands. In Catholic Spain and Portugal, the missionary project was funded by Catholic monarchs under the patronato real issued by the Pope to ensure Catholic missionary work was part of a broader project of conquest and colonization.
The decades after the Spanish conquest witnessed a dramatic transformation of indigenous culture, a transformation with a religious dimension that contributed to the creation of Mexican culture. People from both the Spanish and indigenous cultures held a wide range of opinions and views about what was happening in this transformation; the evangelization of New Spain was led by Franciscan and Augustinian friars. These religious orders established the Catholic Church in colonial New Spain, directed it during most of the 16th century; the Franciscans in particular were enthusiastic about its people. Franciscan friars who went to the New World were motivated by a desire to preach the Gospel to new peoples. Many Franciscans were convinced that there was great religious meaning in the discovery and evangelization of these new peoples, they were astonished that such new peoples existed and believed that preaching to them would bring about the return of Christ and the end of time, a set of beliefs called millenarianism.
Concurrently, many of the friars were discontent with the corruption of European society, including, at times, the leadership of the Catholic Church. They believed that New Spain was the opportunity to revive the pure spirit of primitive Christianity. During the first decades of the Spanish conquest of Mesoamerica, many indigenous people converted to Christianity, at least superficially; the friars employed a large number of natives for the construction of churches and monasteries, not only for the construction itself, but as artists and sculptors, their works were used for decoration and evangelization. In this process, the native artists added many references to their customs and beliefs: flowers, birds or geometric symbols. Friars thought the images were decorative, but the Natives recognized their strong religious connotation; the mixture of Christian and Indian symbols has been described as Indocristiano or Indochristian art. Inspired by their Franciscan spirituality and Catholic humanism, the friars organized the indigenous peoples into utopian communities.
There were massive waves of indigenous peoples converting to Catholicism, as measured by hundreds of thousands of baptisms in massive evangelization centers set up by the friars. In its initial stages, the colonial evangelization project appeared quite successful, despite th