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A drawing of a tepoztopilli.

The tepoztopilli was a common front-line weapon of the Aztec military. The tepoztopilli was a pole-arm, and to judge from depictions in various Aztec codices it was roughly the height of a man, with a broad wooden head about twice the length of the users' palm or shorter, edged with razor-sharp obsidian blades which were deeply set in grooves carved into the head, and cemented in place with bitumen or plant resin as an adhesive. This made the weapon vaguely similar to the macuahuitl or "macana", however it had a much smaller cutting edge and a longer handle. This gave the weapon a superior reach, but blows had to be more carefully executed.

Halfway between a halberd and a spear, the tepoztopilli was equally useful for slashing and thrusting. Conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo mentions that on one occasion his armour was pierced by an Aztec lance and that only his thick cotton underpadding saved his life.

Unfortunately, the last authentic tepoztopilli was destroyed in a fire in 1884 in the Armería Real in Madrid where it was housed.[1]


  1. ^ Hassig (1988), p.83


  • Hassig, Ross (1988). Aztec Warfare: Imperial Expansion and Political Control. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-2121-1. 


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