Toltec facts location characteristics religion economy clothing

Toltec civilization

Mesoamerican civilization developed between the 10th and 12th centuries. Here we will provide you the facts about Toltec.

Date Between the IX and XIII centuries.
Location Mexican Altiplano (nomadic civilization).
Form of government Militarized theocracy.
Religion Polytheism.
Economy Agricultural production and trade.

The Toltecs were a Mesoamerican civilization that developed in the Mexican highlands between the 9th and 13th centuries , during the early postclassic period, in accordance with traditional Mesoamerican periodization.

These were located in the central zone of present-day Mexico and, due to their great military power, they expanded rapidly until they dominated the entire region.

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Location of the Toltecs

The Toltecs, belonging to the Nahua linguistic group such as the Chichimecas and the Otomi , settled in the region of the Mexican highlands during the 7th or 8th century. There, they occupied the city of Teotihuacán , absorbed its cultural tradition, and imposed themselves on the peoples of the region. Later, they settled in the city of Tollan-Xicocotitlan , present  day Tula, in the Hidalgo region, which was the center of this civilization.

Around 1200, waves of peoples from the north began to arrive, destabilizing the region. After a period of decline, the city of Tula was abandoned. Toltec facts

Toltec facts

  1. The Toltecs came from the North of Mexico and settled in the state of Hidalgo .
  2. The Toltec origins date back to the beginning of the 10th century.
  3. The Toltecs spoke Nahuatl.
  4. Its main god was Quetzalcóatl.
  5. The Toltec capital was Tula.
  6. The monarch Topiltzín made his reign “The Golden Age” of Tula. At this time the calendar was reformed, the city was filled with temples and palaces .
  7. Messrs military had as God to Tezcatlipoca .
  8. Topiltzín was overthrown by the military in addition to having to face misfortunes such as droughts, famines, storms and epidemics with his people.
  9. They lived from agriculture and the basis of agriculture was cultivation with the slash and burn system.
  10. In the milpa, beans, squash, fruits and condiments such as chili were planted .
  11. Products such as ixtle and the drink known as pulque were obtained from the maguey , they also used the maguey fibers to make clothes, ropes and baskets.
  12. They purified his body in the temazcalli.
  13. His sculpture is famous for the huge caryatids that we know as multi-piece armed Atlanteans . There are columns sculpted in the shape of rattlesnakes.
  14. The Toltecs knew astronomy well and kept time accurately.
  15. They obtained medicines from plants and their fruits .
  16. The Toltecs knew mechanical trades , they were painters, lapidaries, carpenters, masons, potters, etc.
  17. The Toltec priests and rulers were the only ones who had the ability to read.
  18. The Toltec religion was polytheistic, they worshiped Quetzalcóatl, god of the wind and agricultural fertility, Tlaloc , god of rain, lightning and fertility, and Chalchiuhtlicue , goddess of waters.

Characteristics of the Toltec civilization

Among the main characteristics of the Toltecs we can highlight that:

  • They were a militarized society , like most of the Mexican societies of the postclassic period.
  • Their culture was very influential in Mesoamerica, ranging from present-day Honduras to Chichen Itzá in the Yucatán peninsula. The cultural dispersion was due to both military and commercial expansion.
  • During their expansion they occupied wide valleys crossed by rivers. This allowed an important development of agriculture .
  • The narratives, both pre-Columbian and colonial, mention the ability of the Toltecs to make handicrafts . They excelled in stone work . The monumental sculptures of warriors and military leaders are characteristic, especially those called “Atlanteans” in the ceremonial center of Tula.
  • They were polytheists , that is, they worshiped many gods.

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Political and social organization of the Toltecs

Political organization

The Toltec civilization was a militarized theocracy like most postclassic civilizations. In its origins it had been ruled by priests, but at its peak, the government was in the hands of warrior kings who considered themselves descendants of totemic animals such as the coyote, the snake, etc.

Social organization

Toltec society was very hierarchical . The privileged group was made up of a priestly and warrior nobility: they were those who attended the cult, the administration of the State, and the military activities, both defense and conquest.

The rest of the population consisted of merchants, artisans, and farmers.

  1. Supreme ruler : he was called Tlahtoque and he was in charge of absolute power.
  2. Priests, officials and warriors : they were in charge of the military caste, attending to worship, calendars and public administration. Thus they also took care of the defense of neighboring attacks and territorial expansions.
  3. Servile class : it was made up of farmers, carpenters, painters, weavers and all other types of craftsmen.
  4. Slaves : prisoners of war, slaves, and prostitutes who made up the bottom tier of society.

Economy of the Toltec civilization

The economy of the Toltec civilization was characterized as follows:

  • Although the city of Tula is settled in an arid region, the expansion over wide territories allowed the wide development of agriculture . They grew cotton, maguey, corn, chili, and beans.
  • The presence in the region of minerals valued by the peoples of the time, such as obsidian and alabaster, contributed to the commercial prosperity of the city. Raw materials and other products, such as sea shells and snails, jaguar skins, quetzal feathers, and manufactured objects, such as ceramics and metal ornaments, were obtained through trade with distant regions.
  • The production of handicrafts was also important.

Religion of the Toltec civilization

The Toltecs were polytheists , that is, they worshiped numerous gods. Unlike civilizations of the classical period, the Toltec religion presents militaristic and warrior aspects. Since its installation in Teotihuacán in the period of formation of the Toltec culture, gods associated with agriculture were left aside to replace them with others associated with fire and war. The most important were Quetzalcóatl and Tezcatlipoca.

Their gods demanded human sacrifices for which prisoners of war were generally employed.

Toltec gods

The most important gods of the Toltec religion were:

Name Function
Quetzalcoatl The feathered snake. God of Teotihuacan origin considered the god of life, light, fertility and wisdom.
Tezcatlipoca God of the invisible and darkness. He is considered the antagonist of Quetzalcóatl.
Centéotl God of corn.
Tlaloc God of rain
Itzlacoliuhque God of disasters, cold and sacrifices.

Toltec clothing

Toltec sculptures allow us to know the physical appearance and clothing, especially of the dominant classes that were the most represented. Thanks to them, the use of loincloths, belts with clasps, sandals, and shields decorated with feathers is known.

The wives of the important personages wore a rectangular dress called “quexquémitl.”

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