Pre-Columbian Americas The  Spiritual World : Maya Culture

The Maya were a culture that thrived on ritualistic ideas. They had many God's and meanings that surrounded the life they lived. Everyday was a sacrifice for them and wanted to live for their God's. I have collected many objects in my gallery that shows some insight as to what was a part of their everyday lives. Many of the objects included carvings, which gave us insight into narratives of their lives. Codices which were small carvings that showed pictorial text show us how they used objects to teach their religion and rituals. The Maya culture was filled with many huge religious ceremonies it was the biggest part of their day-to-day life. Taboo ideas of bloodletting and human sacrifice were also a norm for them until European Christian invaders later influenced them. The Maya practiced all of these rituals to keep order in the world, since they believed that’s what their gods wanted. Many Maya would also use forms of drugs or alcohol during the ceremonies. Alcohol was thought to be a tool that gave them insight into the future. The Maya was a very rich culture that had strong ideas of life and religion. They erected great temples for their gods and risked their own lives to please them.

The Maya were a ritualistic people, who paid great respect to the destructive nature of their gods. They had many traditions to commemorate the recently deceased and worship long-departed ancestors. People who died by suicide, sacrifice, complications of childbirth and in battle were thought to be transported directly into heaven. Before Spanish influence, there may not have been a common idea of the afterlife. The Yucatec Maya believed that there were different routes after death. A pot from a Pacal tomb depicts ancestors of Maya kings sprouting through the earth like fruit trees and together creating an orchard. The Maya had several forms of ancestor worship. They built idols containing ashes of the dead and brought them food on festival days. Alternatively, a temple could be built over an urn. In those that were sacrificed, the most common way was cutting the abdomen, and taking out the heart.
The Jaguar God of Terrestrial Fire is recognizable by a 'cruller' around the eyes (making a loop over the nose), jaguar ears, and jaguar fangs. He personifies the number Seven, which is associated with the day ('Night'). Usually called 'Jaguar God of the Underworld', he has been assumed to be the 'Night Sun' - the shape supposedly taken by the sun (Kinich Ahau) during his nightly journey through the underworld - for reason of having the large eyes and filed incisor that also occur with the sun deity, and of sometimes evincing a k 'in infix. The deity's hypothetical aspect of a nocturnal sun (that is, a subterranean fire) should perhaps be connected to his proven association with terrestrial fire. He is often represented on incense burners and connected to fire rituals,] while his 'cruller' may represent a cord used in making fire with a stick (Taube). Moreover, vases in codical style show him, captured, about to be burnt with torches. The nocturnal sun hypothesis is complicated by this very incident, and even more so by the fact that the fiery jaguar deity is identified with a star (or, perhaps, a constellation or planet). The god's other sphere of influence is war, witness for example the stereotypical presence of his face on war shields. Mary Miller and Karl Taube, The Gods of Ancient Mexico and the Maya. Thames and Hudson.
Academic interest in the Classic Maya maize god has undergone three general phases of growth and decay. The most vigorous period of research occurred during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Due to contributions by Seler (1902- 1923, 1963, 1976), Schell- has (1897, 1904b), Spinden (1913), and others (e.g., Dieseldorff 1922; Goodman 1897), Classic and Postclas- sic forms of the maize god were delineated and analyzed. Hieroglyphs pertainingto maize and the agriculturalcycle were also identified, commonly with the use of early post-Conquest colonial sources. Frequent and often fruit- ful comparisons were made with agricultural deities and rituals of Central Mexico. This was clearly the time in which most of the iconographic data concerned with maize was discovered and described.
This lintel depicts Bird Jaguar IV and Lady Mut Bahlam of Hiix Witz (El Pajaral, Guatemala), one of his wives or consorts. She draws blood from her tongue with a thorn-studded rope, as he incises his genitals with a sharpened bone. The text suggests a penitential rite in celebration of a birth, but the absence of a date and the eroded condition of the initial passages makes the reference vague at best
For most people, the word “Jade” evokes exotic images of richly laden Chinese emperors, and is sometimes referred to as the Jade Burial mask, Tikal, Late ClassicEastern Diamond. Few people realize the rich jade history of the Americas, even more, The name Jade is derived from the Spanish "Piedra de Ijada", loin-stone, jade having been recognized by the Maya as a remedy for kidney ailments. Because of its beneficial effect on the kidneys, the stone was also known as "Lapis Nephriticus". That, indeed, is where the term2 Stones crocodile, representing the earth "Nephrite" came from. To the Pre-Columbian people of Mesoamerica, specially the Maya, the "Ya’ax Chich" or Jade meant life, fertility, and power; it was revered above gold. Along with Obsidian and Flint were the most used rocks for ritual, art and warfare purposes. The Cosmology of the Mayan narrates that in the beginning, 3 stones were set by the Maize God, to rise the world. Since the preclassic, it is very common to find pottery containing 3 Jade stones, in elite tombs. The association of the Takalik Maskaristocracy with the brighter greens indicated that they valued jade above all other materials. Just as bright green jade was reserved for Chinese emperors, in Mesoamerica, bright green jadeite was reserved for kings and royalty.
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