The Aztec Physical Appearance

The Aztecs were short and stocky, the men rarely more than 5 feet 6 inches tall (The average height of men in the 1600s between 5'5 - 5'8) and the women more delicately built with an average height of about 4 feet 8 inches. Skin color varied from dark to light brown, and the typical Aztec face was broad with a prominent, and often hooked, nose. eyes were black or brown almond-shaped, and frequently with epic anthic folds at the outer corners, one indication that the ancestors of the Mexicans had migrated into the New World from Asia in the long-distant past.

Hair was coarse, black, and straight. Men usually wore it cut in a fringe over the forehead and allowed it to grow to the level of the nape of the neck at the back, but the priests had their own distinctive hair style and the warriors wore pigtails and various kinds of scalp lock. The women let their hair grow long. Normally it was allowed to hang loose, but on festival days it was braided with ribbons. A more elaborate coiffure was created by binding the hair into two plaits which were wound round the head with the ends projecting like two little horns above the eyebrows.

Hair on the face was considered unpleasant, but nature collaborated with art by endowing the men with only meager beards. Shaving was therefore unnecessary; facial hair was plucked out with tweeezers, and, as a further aid towards good looks, Aztec mothers applied hot cloths to the faces of their young sons in order to stifle the hair follicles and inhibit the growth of whiskers. Only old or distinguished men (who could afford to ignore fashion) wore beards, and these were at best thin and wispy.

Both men and women had great powers of endurance, and from childhood the ordinary people had been used to hard physical work. Even the women were accustomed to walk great distances, following the menfolk and carrying A share of equipment as well as the newest baby. People of importance prided themselves on their behavior, and tried always to move gracefully, accompanying their conversation with dignified gestures and assuming an expression appropriate to the occasion.

Here is a sixteenth-century Spanish description:

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