What Was the Macuahuitl Used For?
As stories suggest, Aztecs often used these swords to slit the throats of their enemies. They would also slay the enemies’ horses with these swords. Some accounts of their use are horrific, as in this example of how a horse was slain with his insides splattered about. There were also occasions when the Aztecs did not kill their enemies with the sword but would cut them with the sword’s serrated edges and then club them with the heavy, wooden handle to knock them unconscious to detain these prisoners for later use in their live, sacrificial offering ceremonies. However, all of these stories are partly legendary and it’s difficult to separate fact from fiction given the destruction of pre-Hispanic Aztec records.
Though difficult to ascertain their exact thought process, it appears they may have had some sense of an, albeit, skewed type of humanity. They were, after all, a very intelligent tribe of people. It seems that before offering their prisoners to the gods in sacrificial ceremony, they made them drink the itzpactli, the name for obsidian medicine in their Nahuatl language. Apparently, it was not looked upon as the poison it actually was. They supposedly did this so that those about to be sacrificed would not fear their impending doom.