The Creation Date Connected with Later “Period-Ending Dates” and Rituals

An assumed synchronisation between the creation date of 4 Ajaw 8 Ohl and later “period-ending dates” and ritual practices of time is intriguing (cf. Schele and Looper 1996: 144; Martin and Grube 2000: 221-222). Let us therefore look at the ceremonial information and dates of the remaining part of the creation inscriptions in order to establish whether there was a direct link between the proceedings of creation and other (later) ritual performances of time.

I begin with the long and informative inscription on the west side of Stela C, Quirigua. Two rituals of time were recorded to be conducted, on

  • 6 Ajaw 13 Yaxk’in and on 6 Ajaw 13 K’anasiiy, respectively. It appears that there is an interrelated narrative between the east side, which, as we have seen recounted creation of the present Long Count, and the west side of this monument. The lord Tutum Yohl first erected the stone (tz’aptun) on the date 6 Ajaw 13 Yaxk’in—to some extent the same kind of enterprise as took place at the day of creation. Afterwards the later lord K’ak’ Tiliw Chan performed a scattering or a blood sacrifice (chokow)
  • 6 Ajaw 13 K’anasiiy, which is c. 300 years after the ritual undertaking by Tutum Yohl. The Long Count dates of and have one interesting feature in common, the day-station “6 Ajaw” of the 260-day calendar. Stuart has noted that the same lord is named on Stela C (the basal register of the south side) and on Stela A of Quirigua as “6 Ajaw tun”. The 6 Ajaw epithets derive from the station of the 260-day calendar of the “period-endings” on each monument ( 6 Ajaw 13 K’anasiiy) (Stuart 1995: 165). The inscription on the west side of Stela C thus seems to record a ritual celebration of a 260-day anniversary of the day 6 Ajaw in combination with a “period-ending date” and is therefore not a commemoration of creation ( 4 Ajaw 8 Ohl.

The “period-ending” date 4 Ajaw 13 Chak Siho’m is connected to the creation date of 4 Ajaw 8 Ohl, on Altar P’, Quirigua (Schele and Looper 1996: 93). The events accounted on Altar P’ are not well understood. But we see again that there is probably a celebration of a 260-day anniversary. The calendar position of the creation day of 4 Ajaw links the two dates, 4 Ajaw 8 Ohl and 4 Ajaw 13 Chaksihom, together. An equivalent synchronisation between the 4 Ajaw date of the 260- day calendar, of creation 4 Ajaw 8 Ohl and of the position of the ritual scattering act which happened 4 Ajaw 13 Keh is moreover present on Zoomorph P & P’.[1] This also applies to the inscription on the stone disc of Monument 34, Tonina. Monument 34 was, according to Stuart, dedicated on the date 4 Ajaw 13 Chaksihom, which represents a “deliberate backward reckoning”, the connection being established by the huge 4 Ajaw sign in the centre of the stone disc, i.e. to 4 Ajaw 8 Ohl. Hence, “there is a 260-day anniversary of 4 Ajaw” (Stuart 1995: 168; cf. Ayala 1995: 153).

Altar 1, Piedras Negras incorporates a quite complicated inscription. Various “period-ending dates” follow the creation date on fragments A-B, A1-P2. There are at least six “period-ending dates” associated with ritual practices that follow the creation date in this account (cf. Teufel 2004: 74-76; 528-536):

  • 8.13.0. 0.0 9 Ajaw 13 Saksihom December 12, 297 AD
  • 9.0. 0.0.0 8 Ajaw 13 Chaksihom, December 9, 435 AD
  • 9.4.0. 0.0 13 Ajaw 18 Yaxsihom, October 16, 514 AD
  • 9.10.0. 0.0 1 Ajaw 8 K’anasiiy, January 25, 633 AD
  • 9.13.0. 0.0 8 Ajaw 8 Ik’at March 16, 692 AD
  • 10.0. 0.0.0 7 Ajaw 17 Chakat, March 13, 830 AD

There is, however, no pattern of a repeating of 4 Ajaw—the 260-calendar day date of creation—since the sequence is: 9 Ajaw, 8 Ajaw, 13 Ajaw, 1 Ajaw, 8 Ajaw and 7 Ajaw.

A scattering ritual was celebrated on 8 Lamat 1 Yaxk’in as recorded on Stela 23, Copan (Santa Rita) associated with the creation event.[2] This is remarkable because is not a “period-ending date” where a ritual practice of time is celebrated. For this reason, there is no anniversary commemorating the 260-day Ajaw or a ritual re-enactment of creation. Furthermore, a distance number of connects the creation date of 4 Ajaw 8 Ohl to a ceremony at the Calendar Round date of 2 Kib 14 Mol, i.e. 2 Kib 14 Mol according to the Tablet of the Temple of the Sun, Palenque (Schele 1992: 95; 168). We have accordingly another example where the creation date is not connected to the ritual practice of time.

A symbolic link between the creation date 4 Ajaw 8 Ohl and successive “period-ending dates” and ritual practices of time appear in some cosmogonic inscriptions. But this affiliation is not exclusive. At the same time a structural congruence quite frequently came about between two identical Ajaw dates of the 260-day calendar. Some inscriptions, however, exhibit—as demonstrated by Stela 23, Copan (Santa Rita) and The Tablet of the Temple of the Sun, Palenque—that “non-period-ending dates” were associated with the date of creation. We recollect that the non-periodending date of 13 Ik’ end of Ik’sihom was important as a time of creation in Palenque. Consequently, the collected data contributes to a quite complex and ambiguous representation of the rituals associated with creation, even when most of them constituted ritual practices of time.

  • [1] Cf. Schele and Looper (1996: 155-156).
  • [2] John Teeple originally made the calculation of 8 Lamat and 1 Yaxk’in (Thompson1944: 49; 56).
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