The Mayan Life Cycle
Immediately after birth Yucatecan mothers washed their babies and then fastened them to a cradle, their little headed compressed between two boards in such a way that after two days a permanent flattening of the head took place which the Maya considered a mark of beauty. As soon as possible the parents would consult with a priest to learn the destiny of their offspring, and at the name which he or she was to bear until baptism. Sometimes these meetings with the Mayan priests were disappointing. For example the destiny was nearly always the same and depended largely upon the donation made.
Priest: Your son will grow up to be a great hunter and raise many fine children.
Parents: No way he'll become a famous stock broker and Wall Street Tycoon?
Priest: Now give him the name of Irving Gondelman.
Now this last line really confused the family as no one in the village had names like that. Most were called Brigido Hop Huk or Puch Puk.
The Spanish who came to the Yucatan were surprised that the Maya had a baptismal rite. The Baptism took place when there were a number of boys and girls between the ages of three and twelve in the village. The old priest was sent for and a discount fee negotiated for the young group and everyone went to the hut of a village elder. Parents made special sacrifices for this special occasion. Each of the parents would abstain from something they liked for a while in honor of the occasion. These times were known as no pussy for pappy
The children and their parents remained inside the hut and inside a cord held by four old and venerable men representing the Chacs or rain gods, while the priest performed various acts of purification and blessed the kids with incense, tobacco, and holy water. From that time on the elder girls were marriageable. That is if they didn't look like Golda Mier.
In the highlands and lowlands boys and young men stayed apart from their families in special communal houses where they presumably learned the arts of war, and other things as well, for Bishop Landa says hookers were frequent visitors which angered the Bishop as the young men and boys never invited him.
So Landa burned their books.
Other youthful diversions were gambling and the ball game. The double standard was present among the Maya, for girls were strictly brought up by their mothers and suffered grievous punishments for lapses of chastity. Marriage was arranged by go-betweens or brokers or match-makers. Monogamy was the general custom. But important men who could afford it took more wives.
The old priests were impressed with the beauty of the Mayan women. Both sexes had their frontal teeth filed in various patterns; with jade or computer chips. One girl was found with a 16 megabyte memory chip imbedded in her front tooth. She would go around saying INTEL INSIDE. The Mayan society had no democracy but rather a class society with strong political power in the hands of an hereditary elite.
In the Yucatan every adult Maya had two names; one from the mother and one from the father.
The Maya were obsessed with war over boundaries and honor. Captives ended up as slaves, but the nobles were either beheaded or had their hearts torn out on the sacrificial stone.
The Mayans attained a degree of mathematical and astronomical development beyond the Babylonians or Egyptians. They were the first people to conceive of the zero and their math used a system not unlike our decimal system with only three symbols. They knew the sun was the center of the solar system long before the Europeans did.
They knew the morning star and evening star were one and the same.
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