By Charles River Editors / Genre: Religion & Spirituality, History / Rating: –
In the years leading up to 2012, there has been much interest in the Maya calendar. Largely, this is because the calendar will complete its 5,200-year cycle on December 21, 2012, and this auspicious event has been misinterpreted as signaling the end of the world. For the Maya, the endings of calendar period of all lengths (cycles ranged from 20 days to centuries in length) were very important and required various types of rituals and offerings to be properly recognized. Often, the best acceptable “offering” was human blood, and Maya elites engaged in autosacrificial bloodletting to appease the deity presiding over the transition in question. Combined with the detailed Maya knowledge of astronomy, the calendar system functioned as a way for Maya priests and elites to know which particular god in their crowded pantheon was ruling at a particular moment. The Maya believed that each interval of time, embedded in units like the day, the night, the solar year, the k’atun (20 year cycle), the lunar cycle, and Venus’s cycle, was governed by a certain deity. Such knowledge was considered vital in Maya cosmology and allowed the elites to maintain and consolidate power, effect political change, and lend religious veracity to monumental building projects. The blending of technologies and religion extended to writing for the Maya, who used a writing system to codify and standardize religio-political beliefs.
Religions of the World: The Religion of the Maya examines the history and evolution of the Mayan religion, including its main tenets, the similarities it shares with other religions and the differences that make it unique. Along with pictures of important figures and places, you’ll learn about the Maya religion like never before.
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