Inter-City Celebrations of Ritual Practices of Time

Lords of various classic Maya cities celebrated rituals of time together as a display of their political and military power. For instance, Panel 2, Ichuml depicts and records a ballgame on probably the “period-ending date” of 7 Ajaw 18 Chakat (March 13, 830 ad) between a lord from Ixchmul and, presumable, the ruler of Ek’ B’alam (Grube, Lacadena and Martin 2003: II-30). The different emblem signs connected to each of the two ball players indicate that they belong to dynasties of two cities.

But these ritual events were not multiparty inter-city celebrations. The winikhaab-ending ceremony of 5 Ajaw 3 K’anasiiy (November 28, 849 AD) performed by a scattering by the lord of Seibal was said to have been witnessed (ilaj) by the lords of Calakmul, Tikal and Motul de San Jose according to the inscription on Stela 10, Seibal. This may have been a demonstration of the political dominance of Seibal over these three cities. We know that ritual practices of time were used to express military and political power where visits by lords, recorded on monuments, were cited to act under the supervision or in accordance with the local ruler. For instance, the dedication of the Hieroglyphic Stairs at the “period-ending date” of (642 ad) was apparently forced to be made in Naranjo by the Caracol sovereign in order to celebrate his triumph (Schele and Friedel 1990: 179).

These and many other examples indicate that the ritual practice of time could be conducted and later documented on public stone monuments to demonstrate the political and military dominance of a lord above other cities. The ritual practice did thus not only ceremonially “control” time interval but also symbolised the authority over subjugated cities by the k’uhul ajaw.

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