Maya Art and Archeology
November 7, 2009
The Maya Beliefs Carved in Stone
Over the years through Maya art it has become more and more obvious that the Maya belief system played a crucial role in their society. In almost every aspect of the Ancient Maya life there is evidence of careful consideration and respect to these beliefs. Maya kings used images of Gods in artwork to reinforce the divine right they had to rule, not only to the public but also to their selves. The Maya were masters of narrative and often recorded important rituals and moments in art, forever immortalizing the events and the individuals. The Ancient Maya belief system was practiced in everyday life, even in the most simple of actions, such as Maya cooking there is an abundance of rituals and symbolism to be found. The orientation of buildings was also taken into consideration by following the Maya intricate belief system in astrology. The Ancient Maya had deep and complex ideas on both death and life, and because these ideas were so prominent in their lives, almost all of Maya art features them. (Turner 10/6)
Among the many rituals in Maya culture, bloodletting was one of the most practiced and meaningful of them. Bloodletting was a form of self-mutilation, which was typically performed by using spines or cords to pierce through the tongue, ears, or genitals of the individual. The blood from the cuts would be absorbed by a piece of cloth and then burned in a bowl to achieve spirituality. Often after this practice the individual would have visions of deities or ancestors (Stierlin 192).
In the Ancient Maya the city of Yaxchilan, which was located on the Usumacinta River, many examples of these rituals are recorded in beautifully detailed relief carvings. An impressive example of this can be found in the three door lintels of Temple 23. The temple is believed to be the house of Lady Xok, the wife of Shield Jaguar. In Lintel 25 a relief carving, dating ca. AD 780 (?),...