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HomeGreek PhilosphyHead of Mayan maize god found in Mexico after 1,300 years

Head of Mayan maize god found in Mexico after 1,300 years


For the traditional Mayans, corn was the important plant par excellence. The Popol Vuh, their sacred textual content, informed that the gods created people out of its dough, after first making an attempt to make them from mud and wooden. Solely these produced from corn dough survived; solely they’d the facility to worship the gods, thank them for his or her creation and serve them. The human determine, the story goes, was molded out of white corn, and its blood got here from purple corn. Alberto Ruz Lhuillier, identified for having found the tomb of the ruler Pakal the Nice in Palenque’s Temple of the Inscriptions, explains in his guide The Mayas that the folks represented the corn god as “a younger man, whose elongated head resembles the form of a cob and is surrounded by leaves.” 

Head of Mayan maize god discovered in Mexico after 1,300 years
The pinnacle of the younger Mayan corn god, discovered on the archaeological website of Palenque
within the State of Chiapas, Mexico [Credit: INAH via Reuters]

Only a few months in the past, specialists from the Nationwide Institute of Anthropology and Historical past (INAH) discovered such a illustration of the younger Mayan corn god throughout conservation work in a hall of Palenque’s El Palacio, within the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. The artifact is greater than 1,300 years outdated and is the primary stucco head to be found on the archaeological website. The sculpture is a part of an elaborate providing in a pond. “The invention of the deposit permits us to start to know how the traditional Maya of Palenque always relived the legendary passage concerning the beginning, dying and resurrection of the maize deity,” explains INAH Chiapas Heart researcher Arnoldo Gonzalez Cruz.

The pinnacle of the corn god is 45 centimeters lengthy, 16 centimeters broad and 22 centimeters excessive. It’s within the form of a younger man with a pronounced cranial deformation. It resembles a corncob, and its lengthy hair imitates the form of corn silk. “The sculpture, which should have been modeled round a limestone help, has swish options: the chin is sharp, pronounced and break up; the lips are skinny and challenge outwards; the decrease lip is angled barely downward, and the higher incisors are seen. The cheekbones are fantastic and rounded, and the eyes are elongated and skinny. A large and pronounced nostril comes out of the lengthy, broad, flattened rectangular brow,” describe the archaeologists Carlos Varela Scherrer and Wenceslao Urbina Cruz, who supervised the dig as subject leaders. As a result of ceramic sort of the tripod plate that accompanied the top of the “younger tonsured maize god”– an outline that alludes to the deity’s trimmed hair, which is paying homage to mature maize – the archaeological piece has been dated to the Late Basic interval (700-850 AD).

Head of Mayan maize god discovered in Mexico after 1,300 years
The pinnacle is 45 centimeters tall [Credit: INAH via Reuters]

The sculpture was found inside a semi-square receptacle shaped by three partitions, one meter broad by three meters lengthy. Its nostril and half-open mouth emerged from beneath a layer of unfastened earth. When found, the top lay contained in the pond on an east-west orientation, symbolizing the beginning of the corn plant with the primary rays of the solar. In keeping with the researchers, for the Mayans, the pond functioned as a water mirror that mirrored the sky again to them. Because the archaeological exploration progressed, it turned clear that the sculpture was the middle of a wealthy providing positioned on a pond, emulating the entry of this god into the underworld. 

In Mayan mythology, because the personification of the sown grain, the god performs numerous rites within the underworld. In keeping with the parable, “[the Mayan god] travels in a canoe pushed by the rowing gods, is dressed by younger bare ladies, and at last germinates from the shell of a turtle, an emblem of the earth. On this final act, he seems flanked by two gods, Hun Ajaw and Yax B’alam, who’re believed to be the model of the hero twins, Hunajpu and Xb’alanke, of the Popol Vuh, sons of Hun Junajpu,” explains archaeologist Tomas Perez Suarez, from the Heart for Mayan Research of the Institute of Philological Analysis on the Nationwide Autonomous College of Mexico.

Head of Mayan maize god discovered in Mexico after 1,300 years
The pinnacle in situ [Credit: INAH via Reuters]

Nocturnal rituals on the pond doubtless started within the governance of Ok’inich Janaab’ Pakal I (615-683 AD) and continued throughout these of Ok’an Bahlam II (684-702 AD), Ok’an Pleasure Chitam II (702-711 AD) and Ahkal Mo’ Nahb’ III (721-736 AD). Finally, maybe in the course of the reign of Ahkal Mo’ Nahb’ III, the inhabitants of Palenque symbolically closed the area, breaking a portion of the stucco ground of the pond and depositing in it a collection of components: greens, bones from quail, turtles, fish and home canines, shells, carved bone fragments, ceramic items, items of miniature anthropomorphic collectible figurines, 120 obsidian blades, inexperienced stone beads and shell beads, in addition to seeds and small snails.

“The position of those components was concentric, overlaying virtually 75% of the cavity, which was sealed with unfastened stones. Some animal bones had been cooked, and others have flesh marks and tooth prints, in order that they had been absolutely used for human consumption as a part of the ritual,” says specialist Arnoldo Gonzalez Cruz. A perforated limestone slab – 85 centimeters lengthy by 60 centimeters broad and 4 centimeters thick – was positioned on high of the providing, after the tripod plate was damaged virtually in half and one in all its items was positioned within the gap within the slab. Above the slab lay a semicircular mattress of potsherds and small stones, on which the top of the deity was positioned, supported by the identical supplies. Your complete area was sealed with earth and three small partitions, leaving the top of the younger maize god inside a type of field, the place it remained hidden for 1,300 years.

Head of Mayan maize god discovered in Mexico after 1,300 years
An INAH archaeologist works on the invention of Palenque [Credit: INAH via Reuters]

“The piece is sort of fragmented. It was present in a context of humidity, so it needed to be allowed to dry regularly, in order that the piece wouldn’t deteriorate with such a drastic change of setting, because it was flooded with water. Now, it’s already in a a lot drier state, permitting its restoration to start. What we’re going to do is clear after which attempt to adhere all of the fragments and to rescue all the opposite ceramic fragments discovered with the piece,” explains restorer Jorge Alejandro Coraza, referring to the fragments of the plate on which the sculpture appeared, since he “was initially conceived as a severed head.” Such representations of the younger maize god seem in different items and paperwork, akin to a collection of plates from the Late Basic interval (600-850 AD), a vessel from the Tikal area, from the Early Basic interval (150-600 AD), and representations within the Dresden and Madrid codices, by which the deity, or characters linked to it, seem with their heads lower off.

“That is the account of when all remains to be silent and placid. All is silent and calm. Hushed and empty is the womb of the sky,” begins the Popol Vuh. First, it goes on to inform, the gods created males out of clay. It didn’t work. They fell aside when it rained, they usually had been unable to talk and reproduce. Then the gods tried to make use of wooden, however the males had no soul or reminiscence; they might not bear in mind who their creators had been. Lastly, they tried corn. That model lastly labored. From these corn folks was born the primary human society able to precisely understanding the lunar, photo voltaic and Venusian cycles, writing and inventing the zero. Little by little they expanded and populated the south of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. Mayan cosmology included heaven, earth and the underworld, which every prolonged in 4 instructions, representing 4 ceibas, 4 birds, 4 sorts of corn and 4 colours.

Writer: Anna Lagos | Supply: El Pais [June 05, 2022]

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