Sunday, July 3, 2016

Etiquette and Aztec Nobility

Nobility in mean attire? 
In the Court of Montezuma, ugly and gross attire was de rigueur for nobility seeking an audience with their leader.

Where did etiquette require nobles to appear before meanly clad? This singular custom characterised court ceremonial in ancient Mexico under the Aztec dominion. When the native Lords and Grandees had occasion to seek the presence of Montezuma they were under the obligation, as Toribio de Benevente, who accompanied the Conquistador Cortes, testifies, of assuming a voluminous mantle of poor material (una manta grosera y pobre) with which they covered and concealed their ordinary robes, in token of subjection and humiliation. 


These were manufactured out of the leaves of the aloe tree by the commoner. Etiquette required the strict observance of this custom by all those who came into the Emperor’s presence, with the exception of persons of the royal blood. Any one seeking audience of the Emperor had to don these common clothes on his arrival at the palace. Barefooted and wretchedly clad, he was led before the sovereign and with downcast eyes made his request, with every outward sign of abject subservience. — Madera Mercury, 1909

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