A Political Manifestation of the Ritual Practice of Time

The ritual practices of time of the Long Count calendar were religious- political manifestations in order to justify and institutionalise political authority. The k’uhul ajaw was portrayed on public monuments as the lord and religious specialist of time in political propaganda towards his subjects. We have previously seen that a range of commemorating inscriptions compared or associated the rituals of a contemporary lord with ceremonies observed by most probably deities (of previous Long Counts and at the initiation of the present Long Count) and former lords (some of them were ancestors of the present dynastic lineage). In what can be considered to be a royal ceremonial tradition, the lord and his/her noble entourage presided over the same rituals of time as his/her human and divine predecessors. The temporal rituals were accordingly given a sacred aura bestowed upon the k’uhul ajaw and aristocratic dynasty in power.

The Rituals of Time of and the Symbolism of the Dynastic Founders of Teotihuacan

There was a political interaction between the powerful Early Classic city Teotihuacan of Central Mexico and the classic Maya lowland culture since various corroborative data tell of foreign lords whom came to the southern lowlands from the central valley of Mexico in the Early classic period (Stuart 1998).[1] [2] The Long Count calendar is not known to have existed among the cultures in northern and central Mexico. So, why then were dynastic founders and their successors, in public, associated with Teotihuacan and ritual practice of time of the Long Count calendar?

K’ihnich Yax K’uk’ Mo’ (426 AD - 437 ad) is commemorated in the inscriptions as the founder of the dynasty of Copan of western Honduras.m Various inscriptions outline that he participated in ritual practices of time or was associated with various “period-ending dates” ( and (Schele and Looper 1996: 95; 99; 101; Fash 1991: 52; 81-87). Various scholars have maintained that K’ihnich Yax K’uk’ Mo’ came from Teotihua- can (Martin and Grube 2000: 192-193). Stuart doubt, however, a Teotihuacan origin of Yax K’uk’ Mo’. He believes he have found data indicating that K’ihnich Yax K’uk’ Mo’ originally derived from the Maya city Caracol or Uxwitza’. Stuart do not question, though, that K’ihnich Yax K’uk’ Mo’s political identity and authority was very much connected with Teotihuacan and the cultures of Central Mexico (Stuart 2004a: 239-240; 2005a: 376; 2007).

The Tikal ruler Chan Tok Ich’aak [I] (360 AD - 378 ad) is said to celebrate the completion of the “period-ending” of on Stela 31 and Stela 39, Tikal by a stone-binding (k’altun) ritual (Stuart 1998: 6; Martin and Grube 2000: 28). Siyaj K’ak’ and Yax Nuun Ayiin [I], predecessors of Chan Tok Ich’aak [I], originate from Teotihuacan. It seems that these Teotihucanos gained power in Tikal about 378 AD (Stuart 1998: 15; 21-23). There is recorded a winikhaab-ending on by Yax Nuun Ayiin [I] on Stela 4 and Stela 18, Tikal. He is also depicted with his son, Siyaj Chan K’awiil [II] (411 AD - 456 ad) on Stela 31, Tikal dressed in a Teotihuacan costume and weapons and shield “emblazoned with the goggle-eyed face of Mexican deities” (Stuart 1998: 7; Martin and Grube 2000: 32).

Since these recordings were retrospective commemorations by later classic Maya lords, it was not the immigrated Teotihuacanos whom declared to be erecting monuments or performing other ritual practices of time of the Long Count calendar. The temporal practices of the Long Count calendar by the Teotihuacanos were registered on a subsequent date by a later ajaw whom wanted to integrate the Teotihuacano predecessors within the classic Maya philosophy of time. Even in the late-classic period, the Maya ajaw appropriates ideas, costumes, signs and iconography from Teo- tihuacan. For instance Stela 1, Lacanja, dedicated on, portrays a lord in a Teotihuacan Tlaloc-Venus costume (Schele and Grube 1994: 106). But he was not a Teotihuacano. As many members of classic Maya nobility, he had appropriated the symbols and attributes of Central Mexico.

Moreover, a “period-ending” of a winikhaab (k’altun) is witnessed by a lord from Teotihuacan, recorded in the inscription by the Teotihuacan emblem-hieroglyph (puh) on Stela 8, Seibal (Schele and Grube 1995: 188). Aj B’olon Haabtal erected five stelae in and around A-3 temple on the “period-ending date” 5 Ajaw 3 K’anasiiy (November 28, 849 ad) in Seibal. The portraits on the stelae depict both classic Maya and Mexican profiles (Schele and Mathews 1998: 175-197; Martin and Grube 2000: 227).

This type of political ideology belongs to the “Tollan paradigm” of Me- soamerican political power and self-representation. There were probably many Tollans (Nahuatl, “place of bulrushes”)—which represented the first or model city in ancient Mesoamerica (cf. Carrasco 2000; Nicholson 2000)—but Teotihuacan was the archetype “, ... having played a direct and active role in founding political orders within the Maya area” (Stuart 1998: 4).

A symbolic associating of ancestor Teotihuacanos heightened not only the religious-political eminence of the classic Maya regent but in addition the ritual-symbolic practice of time of the classic Maya Long Count calendar.

  • [1] About the interrelation between the classic Maya and Teotihuacan cf. Braswell,Geoffrey (ed.). Teotihuacan and the Maya: Reinterpreting Early Classic Interaction. University of Texas Press. Austin. 2004.
  • [2] Cf. Stuart (2004a: 227-240; 2007).
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