FIGURE 30. Indigenous messenger wearing quilted cotton armor in Cell 13 of the Lienzo de Tlaxcala. This armor tied in the back; these ties can be seen running up the man’s spine.
FIGURE 31. Battle standards in the Lienzo de Tlaxcala, showing a Banner-style battle standard strapped onto a warrior’s back from Cell 40 (left) and a Sun-style battle standard showing the U-shaped support rack from Cell 29 (right).
FIGURE 32. Four basic styles of warrior costume in the Matrícula de Tributos. From left to right, Huaxtec (folio 3r), Butterfly (folio 3v), Jaguar (folio 3v), and Claw (folio 3v).
FIGURE 33. Huaxtec headdress battle standards in Cell 41 of the Lienzo de Tlaxcala.
FIGURE 34. Battle scene from Cell 45 of the Lienzo de Tlaxcala; Aztec warriors fight on the left and Tlaxcalan warriors fight on the right. They are armed with obsidian-bladed swords and an obsidian-bladed thrusting spear. On the left, one of the Aztec warrior looks out from inside the jaws of his jaguar headdress. On the right, one of the Tlaxcalan warriors wears the golden Eagle battle standard of Ocotelolco.
FIGURE 35. Additional styles of warrior costume the Matrícula de Tributos. From left to right, these are Coyote (top) and Canid Deity (bottom; note the Huaxtec nose ornament as well as the dog’s head on top of the headdress); Death (bottom, with the Huaxtec style above); Quetzal Feather (red version); Twisted Feather (note the red support rack); and Umbilical Cord (note the red support rack). All examples are from folio 3v except the Umbilical Cord, which is from 12r.
FIGURE 36. The four battle standards of the kingdom of Tlaxcala, from the main scene at the top of the Lienzo de Tlaxcala.
FIGURE 37. Styles of shields from folios 3r and 4r of the Matrícula de Tributos. From left to right, these are the Huaxtec Nose Ornament shield, the Huaxtec Hawk Scratch shield, the Twisted Gourd shield, and the Eagle’s Foot shield.
FIGURE 38. Styles of shields from Cell 46 of the Lienzo de Tlaxcala. From left to right, these are the Huaxtec Hawk Scratch-Huaxtec Nose Ornament shield, the Silver Stones shield, the two-disk shield, and the alternating stripes shield. Note that these Aztec warriors are armed with obsidian-bladed swords and obsidian-bladed thrusting spears.
Both the Matrícula and the Lienzo provide rich documentation of the military costumes worn in Central Mexico. The basic elements of a warrior’s dress were a round shield (chimatl) and a suit of padded cotton armor (ichcahuipilli)(Figure 30). These suits of cloth armor were so effective at repelling arrows that the Europeans began wearing them as well.26 This basic costume of shield and armor was enhanced by elaborate feather regalia. These could include a loose-fitting feathered bodysuit (tlahuiztli) worn over one’s armor, an elaborate headdress, or a tall battle standard strapped to the warrior’s back with a U-shaped rack (Figure 31).
For the Aztecs, at least, feathered military costumes were regulated by a complex set of According to the Codex Mendoza, when a warrior had captured two prisoners he gained the right to cover his plain cotton armor with a feathered ‘Huaxtec’ costume.27 This consisted of a feathered bodysuit worn over the armor and a conical headdress. This is the most common type of costume depicted in the tribute lists of the Matrícula (Figure 32) This costume style is also shown in the Lienzo, but there the conical ‘headdress’ is worn on the back as a battle standard (Figure 33).
When an Aztec warrior took a third prisoner, he gained the right to wear a Butterfly (papalotl) costume, which included a butterfly-shaped battle standard (Figure 32). With a fourth prisoner, a warrior could wear a Jaguar (ocelotl) costume, which came in different colors (yellow, red, blue, green) and included a fearsome headdress: the warrior looked out from between the jaguar’s jaws (Figure 34). For taking five and six prisoners, the warrior could wear the Claw (xopilli) costume, which included a teardrop-shaped battle standard (Figure 32). Dozens of other styles of warrior costumes are shown in Aztec and Tlaxcalan sources, but their relationship to a warrior’s rank is less clear (Figure 35). In the Matrícula, these other styles include Coyote (coyotl), Canid Deity (quaxolotl), Death (tzitzimitl), Quetzal Feather (patzactli), Twisted Feather (momoyactli), and Umbilical Cord (tozcocolli). Many of these styles also appear in the Lienzo; in addition, a Banner (pamitl) style of battle standard is common (Figure 31, left).28
Another important aspect of warrior costumes in the Lienzo is that many warriors wear the battle standards associated with one of the four main subdivisions of the kingdom of Tlaxcala (Figure 36). Two of these battle standards were also used in Central Mexico (and appear as tribute offerings in the Matrícula): the Quetzal Feather standard (patzactli) of Quiahuiztlan and the Canid Deity standard (quaxolotl) of Tepeticpac. The other two battle standards seem unique to Tlaxcala: the Heron battle standard of Tizatlan and the Eagle battle standard of Ocotelolco. We do not know if the right to wear one of these four Tlaxcalan battle standards was awarded because of success on the battlefield, or simply because the warrior wearing the standard came from the subdivision in question.
In addition to costumes and battle standards, both the Aztecs and the Tlaxcalans used a number of different styles of shield.29 The different styles of shield do not seem to have been connected to a ‘matching’ costume or battle standard. Common styles, named for their decorative patterns, included Huaxtec (cuexyo) shields (the Huaxtec Hawk Scratch shield, the Huaxtec Nose Ornament shield, and combinations of the two patterns), the Twisted Gourd Shield (xicalcoliuhqui), the Eagle’s Foot shield (quauhtetepoyo), the Gold Disk shield (teocuitlaxapo), the Silver Stones shield (teucuiltlateteyo) and the Down Ball shield (ihuiteteyo) (Figure 37). Two types of shield common in the Lienzo de Tlaxcala are a ‘two-disk’ shield and an ‘alternating stripes’ shield, but we do not know what those patterns were called in Nahuatl (Figure 38).
Finally, warriors also carried different kinds of weapons.30 These included a sword (macuahuitl) made by lashing obsidian blades to a shaft of wood, a long thrusting spear (tepoztopilli) with an obsidian-bladed head, and a projectile spears that was hurled through the air with a spear thrower (atlatl)(Figure 34, 38). The bow (tlahuitolli) and arrow (yaomitl) were also used, although these seem to have been viewed as somewhat primitive. In the Lienzo de Tlaxcala, bows and arrows are always wielded by the enemies of the Tlaxcalans, enemies who (as we saw above) are often portrayed as barbarians.
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26 Anawalt 1981, 49, 217.
27 Anawalt 1994: 112-130.
28 Berdan and Anawalt 1994c.
29 Anawalt 1992: 122-124; Berdan and Anawalt 1994d.
30 For an overview of Central Mexican weapons, see Hassig 1988, 75-85.