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Aztec Sacred Scripture?
A Search for the Nahua Sense of Reality

Aztec Sacred Scripture? A Search for the Nahua Sense of Reality

The research project "Aztec Sacred Scripture? A Search for the Nahua Sense of Reality" studied the pre-Hispanic Aztecs, who lived in Central Mexico in the 13th through 16th centuries. The project examined how the Aztecs' religious cosmovision informed and shaped their pictorial writing system. On a more abstract level, it searched for an interpretation of the Aztec cultural sense of reality through an analysis of their semiotic concepts.

Generally, the project analyzed principal elements of Aztec culture and religion from the perspective of the academic studies of religion and Mesoamerica, drawing on concepts from the aesthetics of religion, visual culture, material culture, anthropology, and ritual studies. Inspired by (Latin American) postcolonial approaches, the project set out to reflect potential Eurocentric biases in previous representations of Aztec culture and religion, focusing particularly on the concept of sacred scripture, and searched for alternative interpretations.

The project was part of a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship held by the researcher Dr. Isabel Laack in the years 2012-2015 and was funded by the European Research Council under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research of the European Union with the project name "Pictorial History in Mesoamerican Religions."

The project's home institution was the Institut für Religionswissenschaft at Heidelberg University with the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University as cooperation partner. Prof. Dr. Gregor Ahn (Heidelberg University) was the official project coordinator and Prof. Dr. Davíd Carrasco (Harvard Divinity School) was the outgoing host at Harvard University.

Keywords:

Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica, Aztecs, Aztec religion, Nahuas, Nahua religion, cosmovision, study of religion, history of religions, pictorial writing, pictography, writing theory, semiotics, orality–literacy debate, aesthetics of religion, material religion, visual religion, art history, visual culture studies, social text practices, material text practices, sacred scripture, holy books, ritual studies, postcolonial theory.