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Georgia State University

New Faculty Publication on Aztec Gods and God-Bodies

Congratulations to Dr. Molly Bassett on the publication of her new book The Fate of Earthly Things: Aztec Gods and God-Bodies (University of Texas Press).

From the publisher:

In The Fate of Earthly Things, Molly Bassett draws on ethnographic fieldwork, linguistic analyses, visual culture, and ritual studies to explore what ritual practices such as human sacrifice and the manufacture of deity embodiments (including humans who became gods), material effigies, and sacred bundles meant to the Aztecs. She analyzes the Aztec belief that wearing the flayed skin of a sacrificial victim during a sacred rite could transform a priest into an embodiment of a god or goddess, as well as how figurines and sacred bundles could become localized embodiments of gods. Without arguing for unbroken continuity between the Aztecs and modern speakers of Nahuatl, Bassett also describes contemporary rituals in which indigenous Mexicans who preserve costumbres (traditions) incorporate totiotzin (gods) made from paper into their daily lives. This research allows us to understand a religious imagination that found life in death and believed that deity embodiments became animate through the ritual binding of blood, skin, and bone.

Dr. Bassett is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies. Her research aims at understanding the intersection of religion and the natural world in Aztec and Nahua cultures. Recent publications include: