Maya History and Religion (The Civilization of the American by J. Eric S. Thompson

By J. Eric S. Thompson

Believing that Maya reviews at the present time are "suffering from imbalance," J. Eric S. Thompson the following techniques Maya historical past and faith from the point of view of ethno-history. Present-day archaeologists usually are likely to limit their interest to their excavations and social anthropologists to monitor the trendy Maya as participants of a slightly primitive society in an period of swap. during this quantity, a special Maya student seeks to correlate facts from colonial writings and observations of the trendy Indian with archaeological info with a view to expand and make clear the landscape of Maya culture.

The surprise of the Spanish Conquest was once devastating to the Maya. not just have been they positioned less than the domination of a humans bored with their historical methods, yet their faith used to be proscribed, they have been faraway from their commonplace settlements into new parts, and new illnesses have been brought which ravaged their civilization. despite those ordeals, the Maya have clung heavily to the previous methods, and Maya tradition continues to be greatly alive, even though slowly giving manner ahead of sleek expertise and influences.

Topics mentioned comprise Putun Maya enlargement in Yucatan and the Pasión drainage, the depopulation of the Maya primary quarter on the time of the Conquest because of newly brought illnesses, the site of the arguable japanese boundary of the Maya region, alternate family members among the highlands and the lowlands, using hallucinatory medicines and tobacco, lowlands Maya faith, and the construction myths of the Maya relating to these of different heart American cultures.

Mr. Thompson's method of Maya lifestyles will end up thought-provoking to archaeologists, ethnologists, historians, and all others attracted to the traditional Maya civilization. 

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Extra info for Maya History and Religion (The Civilization of the American Indian Series)

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The old idea that those areas had remained largely uninhabited from the time the great ceremonial centers were abandoned at the close of the Classic period is shownand here by archaeological evidenceto be false, a conclusion which gives me uncommon satisfaction, for that is what I had preached to deaf colleagues for forty years until the glad tidings I so long shouted from the mountaintop had become a sort of buzzard's croak by a cesspool. In a frankly theoretical conclusion to that chapter, I look for a parallel between events in that area after the Spaniards came and what may conceivably have happened there some seven centuries earlier, when the ceremonial centers and the whole apparatus of oligarchic government came to an end.

Even everyday Maya language is a preserver of the past, for custom may be imprisoned in language like fly in amber. The Maya used very large numbers of what are termed numerical classifiers. We have a few in English, but nothing comparable to Maya: eight loaves of bread, three flights of birds, six head of cattle, or two servings or helpings of chicken à la king. Maya numerical classifiers at times are based on shape. Dz'it, for instance, is the numerical classifier for long thin objects; you ask for 2 dz'it candles, 6 dz'it corn on the cob, 4 dz'it bananas, 1 dz'it cigarette, 1 dz'it cotton thread, and so on.

In their prayers, sacrifices, and other rites the Maya bared their souls to their gods; they bared them also to us if we have understanding. I have not slighted the reader's intelligence by constantly calling attention to this. Like the traveling salesman's new coat, not openly entered in his expense account, it is there all the same. To say that there were two Maya religionsone of the ruling class, the other of the peasantwould be a gross exaggeration, but there were certainly very important differences in the attitudes and beliefs of the two groups which I try to emphasize.

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