The Otamies were one of the highest ranking orders in the Aztec military and comprised of some of the fiercest Aztec warriors to walk on the battlefield. The Otamies, known as Otontin in classical Nahuatl were the precursors to the Shorn Ones, and otontins were considered some of the most elite warriors that still had room for military progression. If you were to make it to the order, then you would be one of the elite in the Aztec world. Status and rewards would be the prize for joining the Otamies, you would be viewed and treated differently by the rest of the Aztec people.
Entry to this elite Aztec order was no easy task however, battle skills were needed to allow you to capture the required amount of sacrifices, and not every Aztec warrior was capable of such a feat. If you were skilled enough to satisfy the requirements for entry, then further progression still existed, The best of the Otamies could further progress and become a Shorn One.
Many Aztec warriors would die on the battlefield, many would survive or succeed in battle, but not all would be able to join the elite order of the Otamies. Entry to the Otamies required that you would capture six enemies in battle, a feat that limited the order to a select and small group of Aztec warriors.
As with the Eagle and Jaguar orders, the Otamies enjoyed various benefits in society for their skill on the battlefield. One of the many benefits was access to the emperors palace, where they had their own house order, which like many facets of Aztec life was separated by nobility and commoners. The Otamies would also be treated differently by common Aztec people also, the honour and respect of being a member of one of the elite Aztec military orders would afford you plenty of fans.
In ancient Aztec society the more prestigious your rank or order, the more likely you were the to dress in a flamboyant manner. With the high ranking of the Otamies they were allowed to dress in a style that matched their rank.
The Otamies primary colour was emerald green, their tlahuiztli, their war suit was this shade as was most of their tear drop shaped back banner, their Pamitl, which was known as a clawback back banner in Aztec it was known as a xopilli, which was topped with green feathers. Their shield was white, turquoise and gold, with leather strips hanging from the bottom to protect the legs and much of their outfit was accented with gold also.
It was common for the Otamies to wear their hair tied up on the top of their head, earrings were common too, typically made from gold.
There is limited information on the origin of the Otamies, or at least where the name came from, and much mystery still remains. Hopefully we can share the main theories and explanations we have chanced upon and you can decide for yourself as to the true origin on the mighty Aztec Otamies
One explanation is that the Aztecs named their military order the Otamies after a tribe of fierce warrior people. The original Otomies were in fact a group of peoples who also inhabited the Gulf of Mexico before the Aztecs came to prominence.
Another explanation is that the actual tribe of the Otomies as a group would fight alongside the Aztec warriors. It’s known that the Otomies were fierce and skilled fighters on the battlefield, and would likely have been an asset to any group going into battle.
The final and most likely explanation is that actually both these are true. Its highly common that the Aztecs would have at one point fought alongside, or even against the original Otamies. Later they probably named an order after them in honour of their skills, and ferocity at war.
The Otamies, or the Otontin were considered second only to the Shorn ones. Their skills on the battlefield would have made them incredible assets in any war or skirmish. The Otamies would additionally have provided a level of confidence to younger less experienced warriors, raising the fighting skill and morale level of the Aztec army on the battlefield.