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The Other Conquest

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Explain how a given institution or symbol system in a nonwestern culture enhances the viability of that culture or, alternately, serves the purposes of some social group or category within that culture

According to Madsen (101), syncretism refers to the fusion of differing religious forms and views into one. When related to religion, it often result into a creation of a new system of belief system which begins when alien viewpoints get introduced to an indigenous belief system and the traditions of the two systems intertwined and the new heterogeneous religion depicts characteristics of the component conglomerate of religious believes.
Religious conversion refers to a continuous and consistent process of change in the religious believers’ practices. This is often realized through adoption of new systems and practice by abandoning some of their practices which may be considered as archaic (Hassing 247-248).

Integration of the two ideologies explains certain religious factors which appear to be integrated between several bodies of religious belief systems.
In movie The Other Conquest, the producer displays out two different belief systems adopted by the Spanish and the natives of the Aztec empire found in Mexico. The opening scene shows Topiltizn, the illegitimate son of Aztec Emperor named Moctezuma, thrashs about to move out from under a corpse. He survived the massacre at their place of worship had been raided by Cotes, he gradually puts himself together and finally manages to free himself but bumps into his mother’s lifeless body covered in mud. The entire scene depicts a transformation process that signify a change to an order which more human comprehension to the whole dynamic of religion and sacrifices (Domingo, La otra conquista).Therefore, this symbolizes the first step in syncretism of religious believes between the two parties who are at war.
According to Domingo (La otra conquista).The Aztec empire identifies Coatlique as their Mother Goddess. They adore her as the creator of the fifth world and protectors during of those obey her ways. Moreover, the mother goddess is described by the elders of the Aztec community as fierce to those who go against her wishes but is also kindhearted to her people by providing them with protection against diseases, offering them food and leading them to victories in battles. As a result the Aztec community engages in brutal human sacrifices and other bizarre ritual practices that are filled with bloodshed to appease their goddess. Hernan Cortes, a Spaniard explorer manages to make his way into the Aztec Empire and introduce a completely new system of belief to the Aztec community. Together with his battalion, he fiercely slaughters numerous Aztec inhabitants and commences a vicious campaign to introduce Christianity in his new area of conquest which identifies with Catholicism that recognizes the Virgin Marry as the mother of God. The belief is championed by Friar Diego, a Spaniard priest who vehemently campaign for the individuals in the community to abandon their inhuman and backward religious and cultural practices in order to adopt the more human Christian religion. Cortes commences the mission to end the inhuman practice in Aztec Empire such as offering human sacrifices and pushes for Catholicism by attacking the Aztec temples and brutally killing a large number of the natives. However, Topiltzin, survives the brutal massacre and becomes the uniting bridge that bring together the divergent beliefs into a single conglomerate. He represents the unity between the orthodox religious system of the Aztec empire and Christianity which is introduced in their midst by the invading Spaniards. In the process of reviving his bruised and diminishing native culture, Topitzin sketches up a codex and hides the manuscript in a secret chamber below the Temple, beneath the Aztec goddess of life and death,. Then, together with a group of Aztec natives, he carries out a human sacrifice ritual by reaping out the heart of a virgin girl before the goddess in order to appease the gods. In the process, a small band of Spaniard catches them in the act and immediately attacks them. During the commotion, they knock over the Aztec goddess statue, capture Topiltzin together with his brother and deliberately replaces the Aztec statue with that of Virgin Mary and proceed to venerate her while the anguished Aztec natives watched. Brumfiel & Gary(433-434) points out that the actions explicitly demonstrates the extent to which the two groups valued their divergent religious beliefs and at the same time portray superiority despite the similarity of the symbolic statue relating to the religious systems.
In the event of the demonstration of superiority complex by the Spaniards, Topltzin gets extremely furious with the provocative actions and hits Diego with a piece of rock thenmakes a run for it. After his recapture, Cortez interrogates him but the translator, is his half-sister, secretively conspire with Topltizn by convincing Cortes that given the fact that Topltizin was the son of the former emperor, he should not be killed. She convinces him that the boys should be converted to a Christian and as a result, it would be easier convince the remaining Aztecs to accept and adopt Christianity as their primary religion. True to the words, five years later, Topltizin, then called Thomas, is requested in the monetary run by Father Diego (Domingo, La otra conquista). The entire flow of events systematically depicts the logical transformation of the Aztecs’ religious system but keeping the original ideology in worship intact.
According to Catholicism traditions, the Virgin Mary appeared to an indigenous Mexican man called Juan Diego on the 9th December, 1531 on Tepeyac hill and requests that a shrine to be built on the site and named after her (Bloomgarden, 75). The appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe to the indigenous man is said to be the primary force behind the blending of the Spanish and the native Mexican religious believes. According to Madsen (117-118), the Virgin of Guadalupe is interpreted by Catholics as a loving and forgiving mother who intercedes to the Holy trinity for forgiveness of sins and prosperity in life. Moreover, she is seen as a symbol of liberation. Apparently, the site at which the encounter took place was at the exact location of the Tonantzin’s shrine. Therefore, the Virgin of Guadalupe seems to be a mere transformation of the Aztec religion which is represented in a new dimension.
In addition, the roles of Aztec priests involved determination of the most appropriate days to engage in activities such as religious ceremonies (Frost & William, 432). In the same line, it is the role of the Christian priest to determine the calendar activities of their faith. The catholic system assigns leaders such as cardinals and bishops to manage and set regulations on a series of religious activities which seem to be an exact reflection of the Aztec’s indigenous religious system in which priests set rules and regulations which they felt were most desirable to the gods.
The Catholics utilize Eucharist as a true sacrificial offering Jesus. According to Bloomgarden (91), it is considered as the ultimate sacrifice for Christian believers as The Lord who depicted by the“pure offering” in Jesus Christ. Moreover, it was usual for Christians during early times to recognize the Eucharist as a sacrifice (Hassig 251). The accomplishment of the biblical prophesies called for a formal Christian offering which was wrapped in the sacrificial atmosphere with which Jesus Christ provided the Last Supper. On the other hand, amongst the Aztec community, human sacrifices were made to appease the gods and large temples were erected to celebrate such offerings. Therefore, both parties used the body and blood as a mode of signification of cleansing of the human soul and expression of the religious believes. The only difference is the factor that Christians believe that the human sacrifice was made once through the blood of Jesus and the cleansing perpetually take place every time they take part in the celebrations of the Holly masses by taking the Eucharist (Bloomgarde 81-83).
The Virgin of Guadalupe has been permanently adopted by Catholics and the shrines of her adoration are often covered with patches of gold. This is often a symbol of respect, value and admiration. This is an exact mirror reflection of the Aztec community who covered their shrine with lots of gold-coated materials to show their love for the goddess. At the time of making human sacrifices, the man who carries out the ritual has one half of his face covered in blue paint and rotten teeth painted on his lips while the other side has the natural skin texture. This represents a transformation from the old barbaric ways of religious practices carried out by the community to a more friendly system which takes a similar figure but full of tenderness (Brumfieal & Gary, 437). Therefore, this signifies the integration of the Aztecs’ religious beliefs into Christianity but modifying the barbaric components to suit the new requirements in the new religion.
Thus, the practices have merely been replicated by the Catholics and as a result, all these factors offer clear and precise indication that the devotion of the Virgin of Guadalupe has maintained the indigenous religious traditions in Latin America through religious syncretism.

Works Cited
Bloomgarden, Richard. The easy guide to the Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe. 14th ed. Mexico: Editur, 1998. Print.
Brumfiel, Elizabeth M., and Gary M. Feinman. The Aztec world. New York: Abrams ;, 2008. Print.
Evans, Susan Toby. Ancient Mexico & Central America: archaeology and culture history. 3rd ed. London: Thames & Hudson, 2013. Print.
Frost, John, and William Croome. Pictorial history of Mexico and the Mexican war: comprising an account of the ancient Aztec empire, the conquest by Cortes, Mexico under the Spaniards, the Mexican revolution, the republic, the Texan war, and the recent war with the United States.. Philadelphia: Published by Thomas, Cowperthwait and Co., for James A. Bill, 1849. Print.
Hassig, Ross. Time, history, and belief in Aztec and Colonial Mexico. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2001. Print.
La otra conquista. Dir. Alvaro Domingo. Perf. Damian Delgado & Jose Carlo Rodriguez. Union Station Media :, 2007. DVD.
Madsen, William. Christo-paganism: a study of Mexican religious syncretism. New Orleans: Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University, 1957. Print.

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