Sources and Research History

Due to the few and fragmented data, the analysis of ritual practice of the Yucatec Burner rituals (65-day intervals) of 260-days is quite diminutive. The simple extant sources to these rituals are: The Books of Chilam Balams of Mani, Tizim'm, Chumayel, Kaua and Perez (Craine and Reindorp 1979: 21, note 3; Miram and Miram 1994).[1] The by far best account of this ritual derives from The Codex Perez and the Book of Chilam Balam of Mam. The Codex Perez and The Book of Chilam Balam of Mam is a collection of various Maya documents, originals and copies, gathered by Don Juan ? ю Perez (1798-1859) from about 1835.7 Don Juan Perez was mayor of the small village Peto in Yucatan, Mexico. The Codex Perez8 and The Book of Chilam Balam of Mam contains almanacs and prophecies of three types: the coming of the Spaniards and the new religion, k’atun prophecies, prophecies associated with 360-days and 365-days, account of the Itza and the Xius, medical advice, divination, a computation of time, and land documents. The collection of The Codex Perez and The Book of Chilam Balam of Mam is divided in three parts. The first two sections are from The Book of Chilam Balam of Mam. They also contain material from The Book of Chilam Balam of Kaua, of Ixil, and maybe Oxkutzcab (Craine and Reindorp 1979: xv-xvii). Eugene R. Craine and Reginald Carl Reindrop claim that it is probable that a member of the Xiu lineage wrote The Book of Chilam Balam of Mani (Craine and Reindorp 1979: 121, note 226). The copyists of the ancient documents added and removed material after their own inclinations. Don Juan Perez did not record the name of the author and the copyist, nor the date when it was written, nor whether the manuscript was an original or a copy (Craine and Reindorp 1979: xvi). Don Juan Perez has also omitted a range of documents and passages due to what he considered as “heathendom” (Craine and Reindorp 1979: 58). The copyist has, besides forgetting various Burner periods, committed various critical errors (Craine and Reindorp 1979: 31, note 18). The Burner periods are recorded in the almanacs of divination both on good (or rather fortunate for performing rituals) and bad (or rather unfortunate for performing rituals) days. But these ceremonies could only have been held on a fortunate day.9 There are in addition ex- because there is no evidence of the Quintana Roo Tupp-Kak ritual being part of a Burner sequence of the 260-day calendar.

  • 7 The Yucatec Burner ceremonies of the 260-day calendar have principally been analysed by Richard C.E. Long (1923), Alfred M. T ozzer (1941), Sir Eric Thompson (1978), Eugene R. Craine and Reginald Carl Reindorp (1979), Munro Edmonson (1982), Elizabeth Newsome (2003), most recently by Victoria R. Bricker and Helga-Maria Miram (2002) and Harvey M. Bricker and Victoria R. Bricker (2011: 142-148). Cf. also Bricker, Victoria. Faunal Offerings in the Dresden Codex. Sixth Palenque Round Table, 1986, gen. ed. Merle Greene Robertson; vol. ed., Virginia M. Fields, 293-302. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. 1991.
  • 8 The Codex Perez was named after Don Juan Pio Perez by Crescencio Carrillo y Ancona, the Nishop of Yucatan in the late 19th century (Craine and Reindorp 1979: xv-xvii).
  • 9 Cf. here the critique made by Barbara Tedlock (1992) on the principle, construed by scholars like Sir Eric Thompson, of a supposed dualistic divination on “good” and “bad” days among the modern K’iche’ of Momostenango, Guatemala. It is probable that the concepts amples where it is not mentioned whether the day is fortunate or unfortunate (Craine and Reindorp 1979: 20ff). The Burner days are recorded in the list of Maya years and veintenas (twenty days), but various references to the Burner days is missing (Craine and Reindorp 1979: 93-96).

The account of the Burner ceremonies in The Codex Perez and The Book of Chilam Balam of Mani is accordingly incoherent and incomplete. The ceremony is only briefly narrated and not interpreted or commented upon. It is uncertain who conducted the rituals or exactly when and where the described Yucatec Burner rituals of the 260-day calendar took place. The religious and socio-political context is therefore obscure and will hence not be analysed in relation with these ceremonies.

  • [1] It has been argued that primary, but not instructive, references to Burner days ceremonies can be identified in Codex Dresden in the middle register on 30-31, on 33c-39c (preceding) and on 42c-45c (following) (Thompson 1978: 99-101; Schele and Grube 1997: 231; Brickerand Miram 2002: 55-58). Thompson has noticed similarities of the Burner ceremonies ofthe 260-day calendar with a fire-walking ceremony mentioned in Relacion de Valladolidheld at various dates within the year (Thompson 1978: 100-101). But the Relacion de Valladolid does not provide the Maya name of this ritual. T omas Lopez Medel tells in his Relacion(1612) of a fire-ceremony that involved fire-walking, at Yucatan. This ritual was held on acertain day of the year (Tozzer 1941: 223-224). The information is not reliable because ofLopez Medel judgemental attitude toward Indigenous religion and the fact that he doesnot give the date or the purpose for the ritual. The Tupp-Kak agricultural ceremony in eastcentral Quintana Roo, reported by Alfonso Villa Rojas (1945: 116-117), is not a contemporaryversion of the Burner Ceremonies, as proposed by Luxon (1995: 279). This is due to the factthat the content of the two ceremonies is dissimilar (Villa Rojas 1945: 116, note 14) and
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