Imagine you’re on the battlefield with your tribe, preparing to defend your land from the invader, when suddenly the attack begins. A swarm of warriors wearing feathers and looking like giant eagles is rushing straight at you. As you reconsider being here in the first place, you turn around thinking escape might be a better option, but then a group of those same warrior, these looking like jaguars on their hind legs jumps out from the jungle. You’re surrounded and outnumbered and there’s no place to run. If you fight, they will surely win. If they catch you, you will be sacrificed on top of a pyramid. Welcome to the choices faced by those who dared stand up to the mighty Aztecs during the years of near constant expansion of their empire.
Who were the Jaguar and Eagle Warriors?
The Jaguar and Eagle Warriors were the respected and feared beastly elites of the Aztec army, hardened fighters that wore the costumes of these animals. They had achieved these ranks through unparalleled bravery and through the capture of countless prisoners on the battlefield. Their mere sight in battle gave their foes the shivers as if the gods themselves were swooping down from the heavens to feast on those who dared stand up to the great Aztecs.
Getting to these ranks is not easy. The great majority of young Aztec boys learned the art of warfare from a young age. They learned to endure intense pain, to withstand extraneous exercise, to capture their enemies alive and, above all, they learned the value of bravery. By the time they reached their first battle they were hardened and fearless in the eyes of death though they wouldn’t become a true soldier until having captured their first prisoner.
The jaguar and the eagle, sacred animals of Mexico
The Aztecs chose these powerful and impressive predators because they believed in the dual nature of the universe, a delicate balance between opposing forces. The jaguar matched this worldview in the sense that he could move between worlds by hunting in trees or in water, and could also pounce at you out of nowhere during the night or day. He was a symbol of Tezcatlipoca, the “Smoking Mirror”, god of change through conflict. The eagle meanwhile was capable of moving between the heavens and the earth. The daytime and nocturnal eagles pairing up to give the impression of hunting during the day and night. The great bird was a symbol of Huitzilopochtli, the “Hummingbird of the South”, God of war and of the sun. These sacred animals passed their powers and strengths down to the warrior.
Our warriors on the battlefield
In battle our warriors would follow a simple strategy. Armed with a macuahuitl (depicted below), a wood club lined with several obsidian blades capable of nasty blows and cuts, they would go into battle wearing the head gear of their rank and military role. The Jaguars would scout ahead and surround the enemy undetectable in the brush. Then the eagles would charge while the rest of the army fired off a rain of arrows from behind them. Though brutal these battles would result in less carnage than you might think, the Aztecs being meticulous to capture their enemies and bring them back alive to offer in sacrifice. Their blood thirsty god of war needing his fill of human blood and hearts to keep the sun moving through the sky.
A Macuahuitl, the Aztec weapon of choice (source Wikipedia)
Which are you?
Now that you know more about these great warriors that inspired fear and respect across the Aztec Empire, which are you? Are you the cunning and silent Jaguar Warrior using your wits to efficiently outsmart your foes or are you the bold and brave Eagle Warrior taking your adversaries head on? Choose for yourself by checking out our Warrior Collection! Become an Aztec Warrior today!