3863 - World Renewal Rituals among the Postclassic Yucatec Maya and Contemporary Ch'orti' Maya

This paper will be co-authored with Gabrielle Vail, New College of Florida. Archaeological, epigraphic, and ethnographic studies indicate that world renewal rituals were an important feature of prehispanic Maya society and continue to play a seminal role in indigenous communities throughout the Maya area today. Our presentation examines two examples of the multitude of such rituals that were performed to re-create the world by replicating the actions and events undertaken by the primordial deities at the beginning of the present creation. The first involves ceremonies performed by the Yucatec Maya during the Postclassic period to ritually terminate the old year and begin anew by establishing a "tree" to mark those set up in the four quadrants when the world was re-created following a great flood. Ch'orti' speakers living in southern Guatemala today perform a similar ritual that involves a series of ceremonies performed over the course of the rainy season to ensure agricultural fertility. Both ritual complexes involve foundation events, acts of sacrifice, petitions to the rain and earth deities, and an emphasis on sacred watery places.

Keywords: foundation rituals, Yucatec Maya, Ch'orti' Maya

Author: Looper, Matthew (California State University, Chico, Ud States of Am / USA)


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