This weapon was also known as the Hungry Wood. At first glance the Macuahuitl looked like a frightening club, but as the conquistadors wrote in their reports after encounters with the Aztec warriors, it was discovered to be the Aztec version of a sword. The obsidian shards that lined each side of the wood was sharp enough to create a sawing style weapon that was capable of removing a man’s head without much more effort than a sword would.
|Art by TL Jeffcoat|
Although the wooden body of the weapon was too thick to cut cleanly through a limb, with a certain technique the Macuahuitl was still capable of delivering fatal blows and dismemberment. Since the sharp edges were on the sides the Macuahuitl was most effective when swung in an arc. Once contact was made, the warrior dragged the weapon along the wound to create a sawing effect, cutting deep into whatever they struck.
Swinging the Macuahuitl required space around the warriors and because of this, the Aztec armies did not stand too close together when they charged into battle. There are no surviving Macuahuitl in the world, as the last one was lost in a fire in Madrid in 1884. Any of these weapons you see today are replicas.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of Weapons and Warriors, click here to view the entire catalog of weapons and cultures. Thank you, see you next week.