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Death and the Classic Maya Kings (Linda Schele Series in by James L. Fitzsimmons

By James L. Fitzsimmons

Like their regal opposite numbers in societies all over the world, historic Maya rulers departed this global with complex burial ceremonies and extravagant grave items, which regularly integrated ceramics, purple pigments, earflares, stingray spines, jades, pearls, obsidian blades, and mosaics. Archaeological research of those burials, in addition to the decipherment of inscriptions that checklist Maya rulers' funerary rites, have opened a desirable window on how the traditional Maya envisaged the ruler's passage from the realm of the dwelling to the area of the ancestors. concentrating on the vintage interval (AD 250-900), James Fitzsimmons examines and compares textual and archaeological facts for rites of loss of life and burial within the Maya lowlands, from which he creates versions of royal Maya funerary habit. Exploring old Maya attitudes towards demise expressed at recognized websites comparable to Tikal, Guatemala, and Copan, Honduras, in addition to less-explored archaeological destinations, Fitzsimmons reconstructs royal mortuary rites and expands our realizing of key Maya ideas together with the afterlife and ancestor veneration.

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Additional info for Death and the Classic Maya Kings (Linda Schele Series in Maya and Pre-Columbian Studies)

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While a complete study of the Underworld is far beyond the scope of this work, some basic theories on how the afterlife was conceived are necessary, particularly with respect to a widespread facet of Classic Maya life—ancestor worship. Setting up this afterlife will be the task of the following chapter, although as a pivotal concept the afterlife does factor into many interpretations and analyses. It is particularly relevant when we deal with the relationship between dead kings and their successors.

Although there are a number of variations in this mythology, representing local or regional theological differences, the basic sequence of events remains the same. indb 18 10/30/08 12:37:50 PM de ath and the af ter life in the l ow l ands figur e 4 . The death of Wak Chan K’ahk’ and the Seven-Black-Yellow-Place of Tonina Monument 69 (Mathews 1983) attendants and placed in a canoe. Piloting this canoe are two figures nicknamed the Paddler Gods, the same figures who ferried him into the Underworld. Presumably paddled to his final destination, the Maize God then emerges from the carapace of a turtle (Figure 6).

While the one-day discrepancy could be attributed to scribal error, it is almost certain that the ochb’ihiiy event—six or seven days off—refers to something else.  This is an important distinction, for it makes ochb’ih less of a “death” verb, as it has widely been regarded in the past, and more of a “burial” verb. Ochb’ih is therefore an entering into not only a “road” but also a tunnel, gap, or opening; it describes the placement of the body in a tomb a certain number of days after death. How many days this was seems to have varied on a case-by-case basis, ranging from the next day to more than a week after the event (see Chapter 4); presumably some of this was related to grave preparation, although there may have been religious reasons as well.

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