5945 - U Luumil Ku: Sacred Landscapes and Yucatec Maya Religion and Ritual in Colonial Context, 1542-1812

Although they came constantly under attack from the officials of the ecclesiastical courts, the Maya priesthood survived well into the colonial period. Along with their allies among the Maya cacique and noble classes, the Ah Kins (traditional priests) helped to preserve the religion of the “old gods” well into the 18th century and even beyond. The colonial Maya Ah Kins celebrated ceremonies and rituals to the Maya deities within sacred ritual spaces, including public temples, in caves and cenotes, in the homes of caciques and other Maya nobles, and in various other sacred shrines in the forests and cornfields of common Maya farmers. Colonial Maya religion and rituals dedicated to the Maya deities continued to occur within these sacred spaces specifically related to pre-Hispanic concepts of the sacred and divine. The places of colonial worship, though severally limited by the repressive measures of the colonial Spanish ecclesiastical judges, continued to resemble the sacred places used for Maya ritual before the arrival of the Spaniards. As this paper posits, although militarily conquered, in terms of the sacred landscape and ritual contexts, the Maya remained tenaciously resistant to forced extirpation of their ritual practices. As the conclusions of this paper will show, in effect the sacred landscape in which the Maya celebrated their ceremonies changed little from the late Post-Classic to the colonial era.

Keywords: Ritual, Extirpation, Idolatry, Maya

Author: Chuchiak, John (MSU, Ud States of Am / USA)


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