Real Macuahuitl for Sale

Macuahuitl – Ancient Aztec Weapon

The macuahuitl is often nicknamed the “obsidian chainsaw” by weapons enthusiasts, and the description of the weapon certainly fits. The word macuahuitl means “hand-wood” in the Nahuatl language. It was an oak or pine club roughly three to four feet in length, and it was built with a narrow handle opening onto a wide rectangular paddle similar to a modern cricket bat. The paddle was wide enough and heavy enough that anyone who was hit with it would be clubbed unconscious and taken to be sacrificed.

Macuahuitl – Ancient Aztec Weapon

The macuahuitl is often nicknamed the “obsidian chainsaw” by weapons enthusiasts, and the description of the weapon certainly fits. The word macuahuitl means “hand-wood” in the Nahuatl language. It was an oak or pine club roughly three to four feet in length, and it was built with a narrow handle opening onto a wide rectangular paddle similar to a modern cricket bat. The paddle was wide enough and heavy enough that anyone who was hit with it would be clubbed unconscious and taken to be sacrificed.

This weapon’s most devastating blows, however, came from its sides. Each side had four rows of incredibly sharp obsidian blades fixed into slots. The slots would be carved into the wood, and the obsidian blades would be stuck into them using chicle, which is a natural adhesive used by many groups in Mesoamerica. The blades would either be straight edges several inches long or smaller edges carved into a triangular shape resembling teeth. When it’s chiseled into teeth, obsidian can be sharper than glass or stainless steel.

Much of what we know about the macuahuitl comes from archaeological observations and the records of the Spanish conquistadors, but the weapon itself was not invented by the Aztecs. Obsidian was used for numerous purposes by Mesoamerican peoples from the Toltec to the Mayans. The first macuahuitls are believed to have been created by the Mayans in the first millennium CE, possibly as far back as the year 600. This has been determined through carving and murals crafted during the period.

By the time the Aztec civilization became dominant, they held a near monopoly on the region’s obsidian mines. Two versions of the macuahuitl eventually came into being. The first was the classic macuahuitl that required two hands to properly wield due to its length. The second was a smaller version called the macuahuitzoctli, which was only about two feet long and could be used one-handed.

Accounts from conquistadors attest to how devastating this weapon could be in battle. Not only could men be decapitated or beheaded, but the blades were sharp enough that they could, with the right amount of force, behead a horse. Even so, they were primarily designed to maim enemies rather than kill them since warriors were needed for sacrifices. They were so powerful that the Spanish allowed their “Indian auxillaries” to use them.

It did have drawbacks. Although sharper than steel, obsidian is also far more brittle and prone to break in battle, which is something you wouldn’t see in a Spanish broadsword. They required more space to swing than a sword, and the obsidian blades blunted and broke after repeated use. Most important of all, however, was that they couldn’t pierce European mail in the same way that they could a wooden Aztec shield.

Consequently, as the Spanish hold over Mesoamerica grew, the macuahuitl started disappearing from the scene. By 1800, only a few examples still existed. The last true macuahuitl was destroyed in 1849 when a fire ripped through Spain’s royal armory, which was where it was stored. Today, there are many ceremonial reconstructions, but the only original visual evidence comes from drawings.