Jan 16, 2012

Weapons & Warriors: The Macuahuitl of the Aztec

This weapon was also known as the Hungry Wood. At first glance the Macuahuitl looked like a frightening club, but as the conquistadors wrote in their reports after encounters with the Aztec warriors, it was discovered to be the Aztec version of a sword. The obsidian shards that lined each side of the wood was sharp enough to create a sawing style weapon that was capable of removing a man’s head without much more effort than a sword would.

Art by TL Jeffcoat
The Macuahuitl was anywhere from three to four feet in length and about three inches wide and flat. The edges contained grooves where razor sharp pieces of obsidian and flint were fit into and attached with a strong adhesive. There are accounts of a two handed version of this weapon with a longer handle and as long as five and half feet. The rows of obsidian were never consistent from one weapon to the other. Some were lined tightly to create a solid edge while others spaced out the shards and making it appear as jagged teeth.

Although the wooden body of the weapon was too thick to cut cleanly through a limb, with a certain technique the Macuahuitl was still capable of delivering fatal blows and dismemberment. Since the sharp edges were on the sides the Macuahuitl was most effective when swung in an arc. Once contact was made, the warrior dragged the weapon along the wound to create a sawing effect, cutting deep into whatever they struck.

If a man was hit in the neck, the weight of the wood and momentum was powerful enough to dig into the exposed skin. When the warrior dragged the weapon deeper in the wound, the man could easily be decapitated as if cutting a loaf of bread with a steak knife. The conquistadors even claimed the weapon was able to decapitate a horse. This was tested on the show the Deadliest Warrior where an expert on Aztec weapons used it on the neck of a horse (not a live one) and was able to cut through after three strikes, each with the quick sawing motion.

Swinging the Macuahuitl required space around the warriors and because of this, the Aztec armies did not stand too close together when they charged into battle. There are no surviving Macuahuitl in the world, as the last one was lost in a fire in Madrid in 1884. Any of these weapons you see today are replicas.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Weapons and Warriors, click here to view the entire catalog of weapons and cultures. Thank you, see you next week.

1 comment:

  1. https://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/1043x514q90/674/7fz1bH.jpg mi replica de esta poderosa arma