Retrospective and Future “Period-Endings” and the Ritual Practice of Time

Another argument against a hypothetical ritual renewal of eschatological time is the existence of recorded retrospective and future “period-endings” and ritual practice of time in the narrative of the classic inscriptions.

We have seen that temporal rituals of past Long Counts were undertaken. There were also recorded future “period-endings” and ritual practices of time in the inscriptions, which is interesting regarding the theory of an alleged required ritual completing or renewing of eschatological time. Why would the classic Maya commemorate ancient (past) or prophesy future time periods if their ritual practice of time was eschatological motivated?

The temporal grammatical structure of the rhetorical narrative of the historical and ritual accounts will now be considered followed by another closer look on the ritual temporal language of the inscriptions.

Retrospective Ritual Practices of Time

Quite a few commemorations of ritual practices of time celebrated in the past were inscribed on stone monuments. The present is, in this manner, connected to the past and the past to the present. I have classified the commemorations of retrospective ritual practice of time into four categories:

  • 1. A commemoration of ritual practice of time within the reign of a lord. The ritual performer looked sometimes back upon his own previous ritual practices of time like for instance Aj Wosal according to the inscription on Stela 38, Naranjo. Commemorating ritual practices of time, Aj Wosal announces that he tied or wrapped three stelae on three different “period-ending dates”:;;
  • 2. Ritual practice of time of previous lords linked to temporal ceremonies of a contemporary lord. Stela 31, Tikal states that ritual practice of time (k’altun, stone-binding) by several sovereigns had occurred on:;;; The commissioner of Stela 31, Siyaj Chan K’awil, who marked the pik-ending of, made this commemoration of previous temporal ritual practices.
  • 3. A recollection of ritual practice of time by deities, ancestors or founders of the dynastic lineage at the beginning of the present Long Count. We have seen that “Lady Beastie” and “Caspar” performed quite early rituals of time of the contemporary Long Count later commemorated in Palenque. Moreover, the inscription on Panel W, Temple VI (The Temple of the Inscriptions), Tikal outlines two very early k’altun rituals of time. These ceremonies were said to occur 12 Ajaw 3 Saksihom (A1-A8) or November 26, 1142 BC and 13 Ajaw 18 Pax or July 20, 156 BC (D4-C6)[1] within the contemporary Long Count.
  • 4. The ritual practice of time offormer Long Counts by supernatural beings.

I have already considered rituals of time performed by various deities on 4 Ajaw 8 Ohl (Kumk’u), on the last day of the previous Long Count. Ritual celebrations of time dates of preceding Long Counts were also recorded. As we have seen, stelae A, D, E and F, Quirigua and stelae C, J and N of Copan express that “period-ending” stations were announced completed in an unknown previous Long Count era.

  • [1] Christopher Jones has worked out the chronology of the narrative of the inscriptionon the Panels of Temple IV (Temple of the Inscription), Tikal (1977: 55). See also Stuart(2007d).
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