Authentic Aztec patterns and historical symbols

These last fashion's years has been an opportunity to see Aztec symbols flourish on all the possible accessories that fashion can touch, and we could see Aztec art designs blooming everywhere that do not have much to do with the genuine Aztec patterns.

The representation of the patterns that we see is often simplistic and stereotype Aztec culture in frescoes made of squares and triangles. As we will see, the Aztec representations were much richer than that.

Let us show you more about the Aztec patterns and discover the Aztec pattern meaning. After saturation of the fashion stores about these pattern designs, there are bound to disapear from the fashion industry for a while, perhaps allowing people to rediscover the authentic symbolic expression Aztec.

mexican turquoise ring mexican gold ring with turquoise

Aztec patterns had a symbology comonly used in the making of rich jewelry adorned with gemstones, as this example of Aztec ring shows. You see here under the steps of the making of this Aztec ring

Aztec art patterns with astronomical meaning

The vast majority of Aztec graphics represent deities, animals (related to the deities) or symbolize religious meanings. The Aztec writing consisted of glyphs representing a sound or a word or a letter. Aztecs were used to using symbology to express messages, whether on walls, codices, on religious artefacts or everyday life objects as bowls or clothes.

This symbology allowed to express a message while being decorative, a function for which Aztec motifs are so much resumed nowadays. The modern fashion industry has kept the design while loosing the original meaning of aztec patterns.

As the social life of the Aztecs revolved around the religion related to the stars and the infraworld, all the patterns that one finds on the ceramics or the decorative objects are related to their astronomical interpretation of the stars and the sky they could observe.

ceramic aztec patterns

Aztec ceramic covered with astronomical patterns on an everyday bowl

A large range of Aztec drawing

Here is a presentation of the patterns most often found by archaeologists and the interpretation given to them. You will find simple Aztec designs representing the sun or the day as well as complex geometric art symbolizing the universe. All of them had a strong spiritual meaning printed on everyday object as a strong reminder of the place of the Aztec human in the universe.

This presentation shows you a black and white representation of Aztec art patterns found printed on Aztec objects that where printed/engraved in different tones of clay colors (as the artefacts were made of clay).

The Aztecs represented the sun by a flower in different ways, the flower was the symbol evoking the precious :

Aztec flower pattern Ceramic Aztec flower pattern Aztec flower pattern


This drawing of the flower above represents the immobile full sun, it is characterized by concentric circles in its center and the petals of the flower represent the rays of the sun. Note that the representation was not fixed and varied according to places and times, which complicates the work of linguists and archaeologists.

 aztec flower pattern

This other flower like drawing represents the full sun moving during the day, characterized by its center consisting of a spiral.

 half flower aztec pattern

The half-flower represents the sun at dawn or at dusk, we can not see it completely as it starts to appear or start to be hidden by the curvature of the earth.

 Aztec flower pattern

The flower with the center in the form of a split spiral represents the sun in relation to the world inhabited by men. Apart for being a cool modern design, it has a strong spiritual meaning for the Aztec.

 Aztec flower pattern

This flower of four petals represents the four directions of the universe delimited by the four days marking the solstices. Another interpretation given is that it represents the four directions of the world and its center.

 Aztec pattern spiral

Aztec ceramic

This simple split spiral represents the course of the sun during the day and throughout the year. Archaeologists have named this motif "the shape of the year". There is sometimes a similar pattern on ceramics, resembling the same pattern cut in half and folded on itself.

 Aztec pattern

Representation of the day composed of a split spiral separated into two equal sections representing the day and the night.

Aztec stairs pattern Aztec stairs pattern


Aztec pattern ceramic 

Like all Aztec patterns, this one frequently varies according to the representations. This spiral and stair-shaped pattern is associated with the top, the movement of the sun, the sky, the clouds and the rain.

 Aztec stairs pattern

This spiral and rugged staircase represents the world below, the path of the sun during the night as it travels through the subterranean worlds, night, darkness and cold.

 Aztec pattern

A pattern marking the four directions of the universe and also the four solstices of the year traveled by the sun and in the middle, the center of the world, where the Aztecs live.

aztec pattern
Aztec ceramic


These wavy and intertwined bands may represent the alternation of day and night, or sometimes, depending on the associated glyphs, could represent half a year from the winter solstice to the summer solstice.

 Aztec pattern

Aztec pattern indicating the daily and annual rate of the sun in relation to the days of solstices marking the directions of the universe. It must be understood that for the Aztecs, the solstices correspond to respective positions of the stars (sun and earth) and therefore to directions.

 Aztec pattern

Aztec representation of the celestial vault with on the periphery the shining stars in its center the mexica observing the universe.

Aztec Jewelry

As Aztec used these symbols for everyday life objects as decorative, they also used it for the manufacture of original Aztec jewelry in silver you can find in some museum (like here or here).

Aztec used gemstones (seen as precious stone in that time) as turquoise, jade to ornament their jewelry. The reference to the sun and the calendar is very comon as you can see here.

aztec patterns silver bracelet silver bracelet with aztec greek pattern
aztec heads earrings design in silver turquoise silver bracelet

set of aztec silver jewelry with turquoise gemstones

large cuff bracelet with aztec patterns in silver aztec calendar bracelet in silver


To find out more, we invite you to consult this website from which we have obtained this information.

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September 06, 2019 — TRANCHANT NICOLAS

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