Keith Hunt - What Does the Future Hold?   Restitution of All Things
  Home Previous Page   First Page

What Does the Future Hold?

The Maya Demonic Mindset!






So many idols did they have that their gods did not suffice them,
there being no animal or reptile of which they did not make
images, and these in the form of their gods and goddesses. They
had idols of stone (though few in number), others more numerous
of wood, but the greatest number of terra cotta.

-Diego de Landa, Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatdn, 1566 (Yucatdn
Before and After the Conquest, translation by William Gates).

As a Roman Catholic cleric, and therefore an unwavering
representative of the monotheistic Christian religion, Diego de
Landa disapproved of the multitude of "idols" that he discovered
being worshiped in sixteenth-century Yucatdn. And the Maya
certainly both venerated a large pantheon of deities, many of
them in the form of animals, reptiles, and birds (although in
many cases, the exact connection between god and creature remains
unclear), and represented them in stone, earthenware, and other
materials, a number of them perishable-like-wood - so that they
no longer survive.
Mayanists' increasing comprehension of glyphs following the
important epigraphic advances of the 1950s (see pages 38 to 41)
has helped them to understand far more about the deities
portrayed, or symbolized, in the four surviving codices (see, for
instance, pages 61 to 63), on the ceramic vessels that were
buried with the Maya, and in terra cotta, often in the form of
incensarios (incenseburners). They now know, for instance, the
Mayan names of an array of gods, although many are still, or
alternatively, known in accordance with the alphabetical system
devised by Paul Schellhas over a century ago. Originally running
from God A (the death god who Mayanists now call Cizin) through
God L (a merchant, underworld, and war god) and even farther down
the alphabet, this list of names continued to be added to, with
God A+, for example, being distinct from God A. Other such
systems for referring to deities whose Maya identities are, or
were, uncertain include the Palenque Triad, a collective name
coined by Heinrich Berlin in 1963 to encompass the three gods
individually known as GI, GII, and GIII. Another method of
denoting a god or goddess is simply to describe his, her, or its
appearance, association, or function; for instance, the Maize
God, the Moon Goddess, and the Water Lily Jaguar (see pages 136
to 139).
The Feathered Serpent (or Kukulcan) is just one of the Maya
deities that were absorbed from other cultures, its worship at
Chichen Itzd having been introduced from Tolldn (see page 19).
Many representations of the Feathered Serpent were sculpted in
stone at Chichen Itzd, and while figural depictions of Maya
deities are crucial providers of information for Mayanists, so,
too, are portraits painted in words, one of the most important
written sources being the Popol Vuh ("Council Book"), the
creation account of the Quiche Maya that was thought to have been
set down during the 1550s, but is certainly far older.

Creator Gods and Old Deities The Popol Vuh names the creators of
the world as Heart of Sky, or Huracan (a sky god who manifests
himself as three forms of lightning and may correspond to
K'awil), and Gucumatz (a primeval-water-inhabiting feathered
serpent who may be equated with Kukulcan). But Mayanists believe
the creator deity Itzamna to have been one of the most
significant Maya gods. Envisaged as ruling over the other gods
(see pages 92 to 94), Itzamna (or God D) was also considered to
have a priestly, or shamanic, aspect that encompassed curing,
divination, and writing (which he was said to have invented). In
addition, he was probably once venerated in reptilian form as the
caiman Itzam Cab Ain (see pages 67 to 69), and in avian form as
the Principal Bird Deity (which was in turn associated with Vucub
Caquix, see pages 42 to 46).

Itzamna was one of a number of Maya gods who were depicted as
being advanced in age, key visual features being their
toothlessness, and consequently their fallen-in mouths. Other
such aged deities include Chac Chel ("Great Rainbow"), or Goddess
0, a goddess of curing and midwifery, divination and weaving, who
may have been regarded as Itzamna's wife, and who maybe one and
the same as a goddess named Ix Chel ("Lady Rainbow," see pages 67
to 69). Another aged deity was Pauahtun (or God N), who was
primarily imagined as holding the sky aloft, sometimes being
portrayed in quadruplicate when performing this sky-bearing role
(see pages 109 to 110).

Gods of the Sky

In the Popol Vuh, it is told that after defeating the lords of
xibalba (the "place of fright," or underworld), the Hero Twins
rose to the heavens, where they became the sun and the moon. They
were not the only divinities with solar and lunar associations,
however, although there is much that remains mysterious about the
Maya Moon Goddess, who was sometimes represented as a young woman
cradling a rabbit (a lunar symbol) while perched on a crescent
moon (see page 111 to 112).

Far more is known about Kinich Ahau ("Sunfaced Lord"), the Maya
god of the daytime sun, who is typically shown with a kin symbol
(signifying "sun" or "day") marking his face, "T"-shaped
upper-incisor teeth, and large eyes with marks in the corners
that give him a cross-eyed look. It seems that many Maya tried to
incorporate the latter two characteristics into their own
appearance, filing their teeth into a "T"-shape to emulate Kinich
Ahau's, and attempting to become permanently cross-eyed, as
described by de Landa: "It was held as a grace to be cross-eyed,
and this was artificially brought about by the mothers, who in
infancy suspended a small plaster from the hair down between
the eyebrows and reaching the eyes; this constantly binding, they
finally became cross-eyed." (Kinich Ahau is also known as God G,
and see pages 98 to 99 for his links with GIII of the Palenque

The Maya depended on the sun to ripen their principal form of
sustenance - maize - and also on rain to keep the maize crop well
watered. One of their most important deities was therefore Chac,
the god of rain and other forms of water, as well as of thunder
and lightning, who is alternatively known to Mayanists as God B.
Reflecting his various aspects, he could be portrayed wielding an
ax or serpent (symbols of lightning), and with catfishlike
barbels snaking from the corners of his mouth, his body
furthermore often being colored blue in the codices (see also
pages 72 to 75 and 102 to 105). In art, his most arresting
feature, however, is his upper lip, which was depicted as being
so long that it resembles a short elephant's trunk or wavy nose.
Like many other gods, representations of Chac often signal his
divine status by means of enormous "god-eyes" containing spirals
or other nonhumanlooking centers. "God-markings," or tattoolike
symbols adorning the body or limbs, also proclaim to the viewer
that the figure portrayed is a deity.

Gods of the Underworld

When Kinich Ahau, the god of the sun by day, sank below the
horizon at night in the west, he was thought to be transformed
into a completely different guise: that of a jaguar, a creature
that hunts by night and whose golden eyes light up the darkness.
It was therefore as the jaguar God of the Underworld that the sun
was believed to undertake the perilous journey through xibalba
during the hours of darkness, when he was imagined either in
entirely jaguar form, or else with a human face, albeit usually
With jaguar ears and a "cruller," or twisted line, adorning his
nose and eyes (see pages 116 to 118).
The Maya believed that while traveling through xibalba, the
jaguar God of the Underworld was in grave danger from the death
lords who ruled over this dark and watery realm. Rivers of blood
and pus flowed through xibalba, according to the Popol Vuh, which
names some of the death gods as Flying Scab, Jaundice Demon,
Skull Staff, Bloody Teeth, and Bloody Claws. Mayanists know of
other death deities, too, such as God A
A+ and God A, Whose Maya name may have been Cizin, or "Flatulent
One" (see pages 61 to 63). Symbols of death, such as skulls,
skeletal figures, crossed bones, and eyeballs typically identify
these death gods, or lords of xibalba, in the codices and on
decorated ceramic vessels.

The Hero Twins, the Maize God, and Divine Associations
Xibalba and its death lords feature significantly in the Popol
Vuh, and specifically in the section that concerns the story of
Hun Hunahpu, and of his sons, the Hero Twins. According to the
tale told, the noisy ballplaying of Hun Hunahpu and his twin
brother, Vucub Hunahpu, on earth so disturbed the death lords
below that they summoned the brothers to xibalba to compete
against them. (For more on the mythical aspects of the ballgame,
see pages 47 to 60.) The death lords eventually defeated and
sacrificed the brothers, burving their bodies beneath Crushing
Ballcourt and placing Hun Hunahpu's head in a calabash tree.
There, the head magically impregnated Lady Blood, who later fled
xibalba for the earth, where she gave birth to Hunahpu and
Xbalanque: the Hero Twins. After killing Vucub Caquix, who had
falsely proclaimed himself to be the sun (see pages 113 to 115),
the ballplaying Hero Twins were called to xibalba by the death
gods, and eventually managed to trounce them. Before ascending to
the skies to become the sun and the moon, the Hero Twins honored
their father, assuring Hun Hunahpu that he would be worshiped on

It is not mentioned in the Popol Vuh, but in other Maya mythical
traditions Hun Hunahpu's story continues with him emerging from
the underworld and appearing on earth as the Maize God, or God E
(see pages 95 to 97). As the personification of maize, their
staple crop, the Maize God would anyway have been an important
deity to the Maya, but because maize plants apparently die each
year, yet spring to life at the start of the growing season, he
also came to symbolize the concepts of rebirth and regeneration.
Envisaged as being handsome, vigorous, and eternally youthful,
representations of the Maize God varied slightly (Mayanists speak
of the "Tonsured" or "Foliated" Maize God), but generally
portrayed him bedecked with adornments of jade (an indestructible
stone, whose leafy-green color symbolized growth, and thus life),
with abundant tresses of hair resembling corn silk, and with an
elongated head shaped like a corncob. Inspired by the Maize God,
and by all that he stood for, the Maya tried to mold their
newborn babies in his image - for as de Landa observed: "They
also had their heads and foreheads flattened from infancy by
their mothers."

Elements of the Maize God's physical characteristics are evident
in the idealized portraits of elite Maya men (see, for example,
pages 154 to 155). Images of Maya kings made explicit reference
to other gods, too, such as the jester God, whose representation
frequently featured in their headbands (see pages 142 to 145),
and K'awil (God K, or GII of the Palenque Triad, and a deity
linked with fire, lightning, and royalty, see pages 106 to 108),
who took the form of the Manikin Scepter in their hands (see
pages 146 to 148).

Communing with the Gods

While emulating their appearance was one way in which the Maya
honored their gods, hoping to win their favor, making offerings
to them was anotherand a crucial one, as de Landa noted with
reference to Ek Chuah (or God M, the deity of travelers,
merchants, and cacao, see pages 70 to 71):
Even travelers on the roads carried incense with them, and a
little plate on which to burn it; and then wherever they arrived
at night they erected three small stones, putting a little
incense in each, and three flat stones in front of these, on
which they burned incense, praying to the god they called Ekchuah
that he bring them safely back home; this ceremony they performed
every night until their return, unless there were some other who
could do this, or even more, on their account.

Imposing, multileveled pyramidal temples were constructed to
enable worshipers to become closer to the celestial realm, where
deified ancestors, as well as other gods, were believed to
reside, with the smoke that wafted upward when incense (copal,
for instance) and other offerings, such as blood-splashed paper,
were burned being believed to convey the offerings directly to
the deities. And if the right type of ritual offering was made by
an important enough individual - a member of a royal dynasty, for
example - the reward might be direct communication with a
divinity through the medium of a Vision Serpent (see pages 119 to
The central component of such offerings was blood, given in
accordance with divine demands, as expressed by the Quiche Maya's
patron god Tohil in the Popol Vuh: "You shall first give thanks.
You shall carry out your responsibilities first by piercing your
ears. You shall prick your elbows. This shall be your petition,
your way of giving thanks before the face of god." Examples of
such autosacrifices were described by a horrified de Landa:

     At times they sacrificed their own blood, cutting all around
     the ears in strips which they let remain as a sign. At other
     times they perforated their cheeks or the lower lip; again
     they made cuts in parts of the body, or pierced the tongue
     crossways and passed stalks through, causing extreme pain;
     again they cut away the superfluous part of the member,
     leaving the flesh in the form of ears. It was this custom
     which led the historian of the Indies to say that they
     practised circumcision.

As the surviving codices make clear, in order to try to win
divine approval, the Maya considered it vital that the correct
rituals were performed on specific occasions, such as during the
five-day uayeb period that preceded the new year (see pages 76 to
77). De Landa was shocked by the lengths to which the Maya were
prepared to go:

     But because their festivals were only to secure the goodwill
     of favor of their gods, or else holding them angry, they
     made neither more nor bloodier ones. They believed them
     angry whenever they were molested b y pestilences,
     dissensions, or droughts or the like ills, and then they did
     not undertake to appease the demons by sacrificing animals,
     nor making offerings only of their food and drink, or their
     own blood and self-afflictions of vigils, fasts and
     continence; instead, forgetful of all natural piety and all
     law of reason they made sacrifices of human beings as easily
     as they did of birds.

Indeed, humans were sacrificed to the gods by the Maya in various
ways, including decapitation, heart extraction, and drowning,
with sacrificial victims also being thrown into the Sacred Cenote
at Chicken Itzd at times of drought, for example, as an offering
to Chac.


     The Indian women raised their children both harshly and
     wholly naked. Four or five days after the child was born
     they laid it on a small cot made of rods, face down, with
     the head between two pieces of wood, one on the occiput and
     the other on the forehead, tying them tightly, and leaving
     it suffering for several days until the head, thus squeezed,
     became permanently flattened, as is their custom. This
     however caused so great distress and risk for the poor
     infants that they were at times in danger of death; and the
     author hereof saw one where the head was pressed back of the
     ears, which must have happened to many.

-Diego de Landa, Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatdn, 1566 (Yucatdn
Before and After the Conquest, translation by William Gates).

Writing in 1566 of his experiences in the Yucatan Peninsula, the
Spanish Roman Catholic cleric Diego de Landa expressed his
disgust at the seemingly cruel head-shaping practice to which the
Maya subjected their newborn children, and also at the results.
Yet according to the Maya mindset, molding their babies' skulls
in this way, at a time when they were still soft and easily
malleable, was one of the most valuable gifts that they could
give their offspring. For by trying to recreate in their children
the physical appearance of the Maize God, whose head was imagined
as being as tapering and elongated as a corncob, they hoped to
ensure that their lives would be blessed, and maybe also that,
like the Maize God, they would be reborn after their deaths.
Their appearance was one of the few things that Maya men and
women could change in their lives. Their social hierarchy was
fixed and hereditary, rather than fluid and free, with kings and
royalty occupying the top spots and those from noble families
comprising the elite, who, as priests, scribes, traders, military
commanders, and administrators, occupied the most influential
positions within Maya society. And beneath them were the ordinary
people, who might inherit, or rise to, modest positions of
authority within their particular fields of work, but who were
otherwise limited to making a living and feeding their families
through farming, hunting, and fishing, through undertaking such
crafts as weaving, through bartering, and through warriorship.

The Maya did not believe that death was the end for them when
their time on earth was over. For they expected to embark on a
journey into the afterlife that would first take them to the
underworld, the dreaded xibalba, or "place of fright," where
rivers of pus and blood flowed. Here, they believed, death gods
and demonic beings would torment and try to destroy them, as they
had Hun Hunahpu and his brother Vucub Hunahpu, according to the
Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the Quiche Maya. But if they
survived the horrors of xibalba, they fervently hoped to emulate
the Hero Twins and their father, the Maize God, in emerging from
the underworld and then rising to the celestial realm, where they
would remain for eternity.

Mayanists have cause to be grateful for this conception of life
after death, for it meant that the Maya went to their graves
equipped with items that they thought they would need in the
afterlife, be it for survival or to smooth their passage. And the
painted ceramic vessels, jade masks (see, for instance, pages 188
to 189), incensarios and funerary urns (see pages 190 to 197, for
example), and other artifacts that archeologists have recovered
from ancient Maya graves have proved invaluable sources of
information about the lives, times, ideas, and beliefs of their
long-deceased makers and owners.

Royalty and Rituals

As the hereditary rulers of Maya city-states, it may well be that
Maya kings were considered to be divine, or semidivine, but even
if they were regarded merely to be human, they must have been
treated like gods on earth by their subjects. Yet while there is
no doubt that they were immensely privileged in comparison to
ordinary men and women, the lives of Maya rulers were by no means
undemanding. For if not the deities' representative on earth, the
king was certainly believed to be the first point of contact with
the divine realm, meeting the needs of deified ancestors and
other gods being his primary responsibility. If he failed, it was
thought that the gods would punish him and his subjects through
the infliction of such natural disasters as a drought that would
cause the maize crop to fail, causing famine, suffering, and

Upholding the cosmic order by sustaining and honoring the gods
was therefore a ruler's main duty, this being symbolized by the
ceremonial bar, or double-headed serpent bar, that kings are
often depicted holding in both hands (for an example, see pages
78 to 79). Scepters feature greatly in portrayals of kings, too,
notably the Manikin Scepter, a miniature representation of K'awil
(or God K) - see pages 146 to 148 - a deity especially associated
with the concept of legitimate rulership. Less distinctive
examples also convey the idea of inherited divine authority, as
seen, for instance, in Copan's Altar Q, where a scepter is shown
being passed like a baton between the dynasty's first and last
kings (see pages 132 to 135). Other aspects of the iconography of
divinely sanctioned kingship include the interwoven motif
representing the mat on which an important man might sit (see
pages 78 to 79)-indeed, the Maya sometimes referred to their
ruler as ah pop, "he of the mat") - and a headband displaying an
image of the jester God (see pages 142 to 145). In addition, the
stone stelae and other monuments that were erected in the
ceremonial centers of Maya cities portray the rulers dressed in
elaborate costumes that identify them with important gods
(including the Maize God), with headdresses being especially
significant elements of such royal ritual regalia.

Many Maya stelae were set in place to commemorate the Long Count
period-ending rites that numbered among the many rituals that
rulers were required to perform on important dates or to mark
dynastically significant occasions. Other members of royal
families were also expected to play their parts: as pictured in
Yaxchilan's lintels 24 and 25 (see pages 119 to 121), for
example, rulers' wives performed acts of autosacrifice-
-bloodletting, in this case from the tongue - in order to conjure
up deified ancestors via a Vision Serpent. Kings, too, offered
their blood to the gods, typically piercing their penises until
the blood flowed on to prepared strips of paper that were then
burned, the smoke produced being envisaged as carrying the
essence of the royal blood up to the celestial regions.

Warfare and Sacrifice, Tribute and Trade 

The deities demanded blood to sustain and placate them, the Maya
believed, and there were crucial ritual occasions - such as the
dedication of a new temple or ballcourt, see pages 47 to 49 -
when not even royal blood given by means of a painful
autosacrificial ritual would suffice. It was then that a ruler
often dressed for war, typically in a helmet and padded tunic, or
in a jaguar skin (see pages 142 to 145 and 168 to 173), and set
out with his warriors for a nearby settlement with the aim of
taking captives to sacrifice to the gods, a fellow king being the
ultimate prize. (This fate befell Copan's King Eighteen Rabbit,
see pages 80 to 81). A mural at Bonampak shows in graphic detail
the aftermath of such a military expedition, with the king,
surrounded by his warriors and courtiers, standing above an
abject array of captives, one of whom has already been beheaded
(see pages 164 to 167).

The climax of many publicly staged ancient Maya rituals was
therefore the sacrificial killing of captives, usually by
decapitation - but also through the extraction of their hearts,
or heart sacrifice - after which their severed heads might be
displayed on skull racks, a tzompantli being a permanent fixture
at Chichen Itza, for example (see pages 24 to 26). Not all
captives were destined for death, however, with some instead
being enslaved.

Not only did martial victories supply sacrificial victims and
bestow status - enhancing glory on the victorious rulers and
their cities, but they also helped to decide the balance of power
in a region. This had economic advantages for the most powerful
city-states, in the form of the tribute that they demanded be
paid to them by their weaker neighbors. The scene painted on the
ceramic vessel shown on pages 174 to 179 provides a picture of
the sorts of items that were given in tribute - cotton cloth, for
instance, in which there was also a brisk trade across the
Mesoamerican region.

Writing in Relaeion de las Cosas de Yucatan (An Account of the
Things of Yucatan/Yucatan Before and After the Conquest), de
Landa described the importance of trade to the Maya:

     Their favorite occupation was trading, whereby they brought
     in salt; also cloths and slaves from Tabasco and Ulua. In
     their bartering they used cacao and stone counters which
     they had for money, and with which they bought slaves and
     other fine and beautiful stones, such as the chiefs wore as
     jewels on festal occasions. They had also certain red shells
     for use as money and jewels for wearing; these they carried
     in network purses. In their markets they dealt in all the
     products of the country; they gave credit, borrowed and paid
     promptly and without usuary.

Notable in de Landa's account are his mentions of cacao, whose
beans were used a currency, as well as being ground to form the
basis of a popular drink (see pages 186 to 187), and of the
stones and shells that were worn as jewelry, which would have
included jade, serpentine, turquoise, and obsidian, as well as
Spondylus (spiny-oyster) and Olividae (olive) shells.

Maya Occupations

Regarded as a valuable commodity across Mesoamerica, cloth was
woven by Maya women on backstrap looms, from thread spun from
fibers of the cotton plant (Gossypium hirsutum). Elaborate
designs were sometimes woven into, or embroidered on to, the
cloth, which was used, among other things, as the basis of Maya
clothing. (Typical ancient Maya clothing included loincloths for
the men, and skirts and blouses for the women, sometimes topped
with capes and cloaks). Numbering among the artisans of Maya
society were also those who specialized in producing adornments
from feathers; basketmakers; and the potters who created
sophisticated ceramic vessels, incensarios (incense-burners), and
earthenware figures, such as the lifelike examples discovered at
Jaina Island (see, for instance, pages 184 to 185).

As de Landa observed, however, "The commonest occupation was
agriculture, the raising of maize and the other seeds; these they
kept in well-constructed places and in granaries for sale in due
time." While maize was the staple food of the Maya, and therefore
their most important crop, others included beans and squashes.
Certain creatures were domesticated and kept for food, too, such
as turkeys, and possibly dogs and deer. Maya men also hunted
animals and birds with blowguns (see pages 113 to 115) and fished
with nets and other implements.

Situated far higher up the social scale from manual and skilled
workers and ordinary farmers, fishermen, and soldiers were the
Maya traders, city and regional administrators and governors, and
high-ranking warriors. The scribes whose glyphs and images have
taught Mayanists so much about the Maya culture came from the
upper levels of Mava society, too (see pages 174 to 179).

Those who entered the Maya priesthood were typically also from
noble families, and did so, it seerns, largely because this was
their family "business" (see also pages 184 to 1S5). De Landa
writes of there being different types of priests, such as the
nacone, who performed heart sacrifices on human victims and "was
chosen as a general for the wars"; the chilane, who proclaimed
the oracles supposedly given to him by the gods, probably during
shamanic trances induced by hallucinogens, incense, dance, and
music (see pages 180 to 183); as well as diviners and healers,
and chacs, or priestly assistants. According to de Landa, the
Maya also:

     ... had a High Priest whom they called Ahkin May, or also
     Ahaucan May, meaning Priest May, or the High Priest May. ...
     In him lay the key to their sciences, to which they most
     devoted themselves, giving counsel to the chiefs and
     answering their inquiries. With the matter of sacrifices he
     rarely took part, except on great festivals or business of
     much moment. He and his disciples appointed the priests for
     the towns, examining them in their sciences and ceremonies;
     put in their charge the affairs of their office, and the
     setting of a good example to the people; he provided their
     books and sent them forth. They in turn attended to the
     service of the temples, teaching their sciences and writing
     books upon them. ... They taught the sons of the other
     priests, and the second sons of the chiefs, who were brought
     to them very young for this purpose, if they found them
     inclined toward this office.

As well as stargazing, consulting the almanacs contained in the
codices, and ensuring that the appropriate rites corresponding to
particular festivals were performed on the correct days (see page
36), priests presided over ceremonies focused on individual Maya.
Thus, for instance, they cast newborn babies' horoscopes and
officiated at their naming cerernonies (again, see page 36).

Death and the Afterlife

As de Landa explains, the Ma ya believed that "after death there
was another life better than this, which the soul enjoyed after
leaving the body," continuing: "The delights they said they would
come into if they had been of good conduct, were by entering a
place where nothing would give pain, where there would be an
abundance of food and delicious drinks, and a refreshing and
shady tree they called Yaxche, the Ceiba tree [i.e., the World
Tree, see pages 42 to 46], beneath whose branches they might rest
and be in peace forever." Envisaged as lying somewhere in the
heavens, it seems that this idyllic place, where the good would
enjoy a blissful afterlife for eternity, would only be reached
after the deceased person's spirit had first descended to the
underworld, however. Here, in the dreaded xibalba, the Maya
expected to suffer at the hands of the death lords and their
demonic allies (see page 86), fearing that neither survival nor
escape were guaranteed.

Believing as the Maya did that death spelled only the end of a
person's life on earth, and not of his or her existence, it
followed that a newly deceased person should be well equipped
with useful provisions on going to the grave. As de Landa

     At death they shrouded the body, filled the mouth with
     ground maize and a drink they call koyem, and with this
     certain stones [most likely jade] they used for money, that
     food might not be lacking to him in the other life. They
     buried them in their houses or the vicinity, throwing some
     of their idols into the grave; if he was a priest they threw
     in some of his books; if a sorcerer his divining stones and
     other instruments of his office. ... On the death of a chief
     or man of position they cremated the bodies and put the
     ashes in large urns, and built temples over them, as is seen
     to have been done in the old times in the cases there have
     been found at Izamal. Today it is found that they put the
     ashes of great chiefs in hollow clay statues.

The presence in graves of the objects listed by de Landa has been
confirmed by archeologists who have excavated ancient Maya
resting places, ranging from the humblest to the grandest, such
as King Pacal's tomb within the Temple of Inscriptions at
Palenque (see pages 42 to 46). And it is precisely these items,
and others that were interred hundreds of years ago, that have
helped to shed light on the previously hidden life of the ancient






Keith Hunt

  Home Previous Page First Page Top of Page

Other Articles of Interest:
  ... ... ...

Navigation List:

Word Search: