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Final Farewell: The Culture of Death and the Afterlife

Appeasing the Gods: Human Sacrifice in Pre-Columbian Cultures

back to Human Sacrifice section homeKnifeTextileGod Xipe Totec to Tibet section


knifeThese ceremonial knives were perhaps used by Aztec priests to perform human sacrifices. Priests laid the victim’s body (often a captive warrior) over a stone slab and cut open his abdomen with a horizontal incision to remove his heart, which they gave to the gods as an offering. Obsidian, or volcanic glass, is extremely hard and used in surgical instruments today.

15th–16th c.
Mexico, Guerrero
Obsidian and wood
(69.1, top)
flint and wood
(69.2, bottom)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Cedric H. Marks


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