Star Gods of the Maya: Astronomy in Art, Folklore, and by Susan Milbrath

By Susan Milbrath

Observations of the sunlight, moon, planets, and stars performed a crucial function in historical Maya lifeways, as they do this present day between modern Maya who retain the conventional methods. This pathfinding ebook reconstructs historical Maya astronomy and cosmology in the course of the astronomical info encoded in Precolumbian Maya artwork and proven by way of the present practices of dwelling Maya peoples. Susan Milbrath opens the ebook with a dialogue of recent Maya ideals approximately astronomy, in addition to crucial details on naked-eye commentary. She devotes next chapters to Precolumbian astronomical imagery, which she lines again via time, ranging from the Colonial and Postclassic eras. She delves into many elements of the Maya astronomical photos, together with the key astronomical gods and their linked glyphs, astronomical almanacs within the Maya codices [painted books], and adjustments within the imagery of the heavens through the years. This research yields new information and a brand new synthesis of knowledge concerning the particular astronomical occasions and cycles recorded in Maya paintings and structure. certainly, it constitutes the 1st significant learn of the connection among paintings and astronomy in historical Maya tradition.

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Additional info for Star Gods of the Maya: Astronomy in Art, Folklore, and Calendars (The Linda Schele Series in Maya and Pre-Columbian Studies)

Sample text

The position of the newly emerged crescent moon is directly related to the seasons. In fact, modern astronomical charts show that the first visible crescent moon is ‘‘tipped’’ over from June to November, which corresponds roughly to the Mesoamerican rainy season (Ottewell 1990). Contemporary Maya people observe the moon in relation to the solar seasons. The Achı´ of Cubulco in Alta Verapaz divide the year into two seasons, and they say that in the rainy season, the moon is full of water (Neuenswander 1981).

More often the moon is the sun’s mother, and sometimes her duties as a mother are specified, as seen in a tale from Chamula recounting that the moon is responsible for feeding the sun maize gruel each morning on the eastern horizon (Gossen 1974b : 40). Sometimes the moon is linked with the Virgin Mary, the archetypal mother. The Virgin has multiple aspects in Maya Catholicism ideally suited to a variety of lunar images. Seasonal festivals dedicated to the Virgin may honor the moon at different times of year.

The timing of Carnival, based on both lunar and solar observations linked with Easter, may encode a relationship between the sun and the jaguar as a representative of the moon. In a like fashion, there seems to be a link between the moon and jaguars in Precolumbian times (Chapter 4). Often the Moon Goddess has a rabbit, or the rabbit itself is seen on the moon. A number of tales explain how the Moon Goddess acquired her rabbit. The Chol say that the sun gave the rabbit to his lunar mother when he found the rabbit making the weeds grow in his garden at night (Whittaker and Warkentin 1965 : 35 – 42).

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