'Calpulli': the Aztec "Clan"

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    The Clan system of Tsolyánu is reminiscent of the Calpulli system of the Aztecs. It’s a social unit with no equivalent in North American life.

    In the days of the Aztec empire, the “base family” unit was formed of a married couple and their unmarried children. It might be extended to include the husband’s brothers and their wives. A number of families were joined together into a Calpulli (plural: Calpultin).

    One Calpulli was typically 20 base families together. Each Calpulli had a council made of representatives from these base families. Land was owned by a Calpulli, not an individual, and the word became synonymous with “District” or “Ward”.

    Base families paid taxes to the Calpulli, which in turn, paid taxes to the City-state (Altepetl), which, in turn, paid taxes to the Empire. Politically, a Calpulli was entitled to a voice on the council of a City-state, (although, in actual practice, this wasn’t necessarily so). Sometimes a Calpulli also filled the role of a trade guild.

    In the outlying countryside, a Calpulli was centered on a tract of land that the people cultivated together. In the city-state, however, Calpullis tended to share a common trade, such as ‘Merchants’ or ‘Feather-crafters’.

    Whether in the city-state or the country, most of the social interaction a person had was within their own Calpulli. Each had a name and an insignia.

    At age 5, boys started attending primary education run by the Calpulli. Having their own “elementary school” was one of the many ways in which loyalty to the Calpulli was fostered. Curricula varied by social status and profession, but, being a warlike people, it invariably included instruction in combat.

    A girl mainly learned from her mother and aunts, but around age 15, if the family could afford to lose part of her time on the family work force, she had the option to attend school. She also had the option to have a career, and run a business.

    A young woman did not, however, choose to whom she would be married. Nor did a man. When a young man turned 20, the council of elders decided to whom he would be married. Normally, it was a woman of around age 16, almost always within the same Calpulli. (This custom of arranged marriages is what the Tsolyánu practice.)

    While the word Calpulli could be translated as “Clan”, not everyone was necessarily a blood relative. People from other city-states were allowed to join.

    A Calpulli might give special respect to a particular deity or deities, particularly a patron of their trade. A Calpulli usually had a small temple.

    Not unlike on Tékumel, the Aztecs had an independent hierarchy of priests and priestesses. These might be sent to live with a Calpulli, but more likely, a member of the Calpulli would attend a big temple for instruction on how to be something like a lay preacher, conducting daily prayers and little festivals.

    The word “Calpulli” literally means “Big House”. This originally referred to an area owned in common by several families sharing a partially-covered patio together. It was typical for several couples and their children to share a building, one of perhaps a dozen structures in their Calpulli. This is different from a Clan on Tékumel, in which the members all live in one large Clanhouse.


    Tenochtitlan’s floating farms
    Tenochtitlan's floating farms

    • This topic was modified 5 years ago by  Talzhemir.
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