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López-Austin, Alfredo. The Human Body in the Mexica Worldview
2017, In The Oxford Handbook of the Aztecs, Deborah L. Nichols and Enrique Rodríguez-Alegría (eds.). Oxford University Press
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Added by: M. Jimena Clavel Vázquez and Andrés Hernández Villarreal

For the ancient Mexicas, the composition of the human body was similar to that of the cosmos, with both being composed of dense and light substances. The light substance of the human body was divine in nature and formed the different souls of each human being. Some souls were indispensable for human existence while others were unnecessary and often harmful. The dense part of the human body functioned through its union with the souls. Like the different souls, the dense parts of the human body also had specific functions dedicated to different activities. For example, human thought derived primarily from the heart. Souls could be damaged, which could cause them to malfunction and lead to illness and possibly death in the human being. As the souls were divine, each was a conscious being with its own personality; thus there could be disagreements between them. Disharmony could also lead to illness.

Comment (from this Blueprint): Because of the difficulty of López-Austin’s text, it is proposed to focus only on some sections. Specifically, from chapter 5 focus on the section that introduces the location of animistic states and processes, the section on the linguistic group yol, yollo, the linguistic group tonal, the linguistic group cua, and the linguistic group ihío. Finally, read the section on the animistic centers. Individual members of the reading group can also choose to focus each on one of the animistic entity presented in chapter 6. For illustration of the concepts discussed, consider also reading Bernardino de Sahagún's Florentine Codex.

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