A Spatial-Temporal Ritual

Time of the 365-day calendar year embodied quadripartite space. The Year Bearers of the 365-day calendar were, as spatial-temporal entities, associated with the four supporters of the world in Mesoamerica. Landa compares the Year Bearer days with the four Sky Bearers of the cardinal directions, the Bacabs (Tozzer 1941: 136; Taube 1988: 191). Thompson has, as Roys (1933: 170-172), asserted in his seminal article “Sky Bearers, Colours and directions in Maya and Mexican religion” (1934) that Year Bearers were associated with Sky Bearers, their cardinal directions and associated colours. With their close identification with the four directions of the world, the Year Bearers and Sky Bearers were integrally related, and at times they may have been considered as a single entity (Taube 1988: 191). The four Year Bearers of time are connected with the four cardinal points or world directions and their four associated colours for the postclassic Yucatec. Time is in this manner affiliated with space.

The new Year Bearer is ritually inaugurated and celebrated in the Wayeb period replace the old Year Bearer. The Year Bearer Kan was set in the east with its colour red, Muluk was placed in the north associated with the colour white, Ix corresponded to the west and with the colour black, and Kawak was combined with the east and the colour yellow. After four years the cycle started again with Kan, the direction east and the colour yellow etc. The ritual in the preceding Wayeb period inaugurated each of the years, so that the ritual of the Kawak comes in the year of Kan and is connected with the colour red and the cardinal direction of east. The Bacabs were, as we recall, four brothers whom God had been spared from the great deluge of the previous world. They were placed at the four cardinal points to hold up the sky. The four Bacabs had several names and were connected to one of the four dominical letters, which was associated with a cardinal direction (Tozzer 1941: 135-136). Every year was therefore associated with one of the four Bacab deities. These gods had individual names, were connected to a cardinal direction and a colour, and a specific omen of the year. The Bacabs, Kan u Uayeyab, Chac u Uayeyab, Sac u Uayeyab and Ek u Uayeyab, were honoured by ceremonial service in the ritual proceedings of the Wayeb period (Tozzer 1941: 139):

It was the custom in all the towns in Yucatan that there should be two heaps of stone, facing each other at the entrance of the town, on all four sides of the town, that is to say, at the East, West, North and South, for the celebration of the festival of the unlucky days, which they observed in this way every year (Tozzer 1941: 139).

This was where the worshipped deity, called Kan u Uayeyab, Chac u Uaye- yab, Sac u Uayeyab or Ek u Uayeyab for the respective year, was placed after being carried out of the entrance that represented the previous year. The piles of stones symbolised the New Year. A blood sacrifice was performed on the four “idol” stones, Acantun, in each of the four Wayeb rituals: Kanal Acantun of the Year Kan (Tozzer 1941: 141), Chac Acantun of the Year Muluk (Tozzer 1941: 144-145), Sac Acantun of the Year Ix (Tozzer 1941: 146) and Ekel Acantun of the Year Kawak (Tozzer 1941: 146-147). The Acantun was a ‘stone stela’ related with the four cardinal directions (Roys 1933: 171; Tozzer 1941: 160, note 827). An erection (tz’ap) of four similar stones is recounted in the text on the New Year pages (25-28) of Codex Dresden. These wooden posts are illustrated in the New Year pages of this book (15d- 18d) and together with the Acantun possibly relate to the cosmogony (Taube 1988: 241-242), symbolise one of the four cardinal directions of the New Year ceremonies.

But only one of the four cardinal points or directions of the earth (space) were represented and ritually observed in each of the Year Bearer rituals of the Wayeb period. We recollect that the individual Bacab, u Uayeyab, Acantun or Yax Amte’, each associated with a colour and one cardinal direction, was the only protagonist of this spatial-temporal ritual. A sacrifice of a turkey and incense to the four cardinal directions of the world, depicted in the Codex Dresden is also known in New Year rituals of contemporary Maya groups like the Jacalteca and Ixil (Taube 1988: 243-244). There is, however, a significant difference from the postclassic Yucatec Year Bearer ceremonies because we learn that in Todos Santos the Mam sacrifice four turkeys to each of the mountain of the Year Bearer and a turkey to the house of the Alcalde Rezador (Oaks 1951: 231-232). Lincoln also relates that the Ixil sacrifice turkey to the four corners of the world (Lincoln 1941: 114). Landa and Codex Dresden, however, narrate that only one of the four Year Bearers or cardinal points of the world was observed in the New Year ritual. A relationship between time and space of the fourfold division of the earth, where time and space were correlated, was not ritual-symbolically emphasised in the New Year ritual of the 365-day calendar. Just one cardinal direction of the four cardinal directions was observed in the New Year spatial-temporal ceremony. Time travelled on the back of one of the Year Bearers where it was ritual-symbolically oriented towards one of the four cardinal directions. The 365-day year and time was in this fashion spatially celebrated. The world was however, not redefined and not recreated through the Year Bearer ritual of the 365-day calendar since space of the four cardinal directions of the world was not symbolically circumscribed in the ritual practice of time of the postclassic Yucatec New Year Ceremony. It would take four consecutive New Year rituals of four years to symbolically define the quadripartite earth.

Space is related to time in the 365-day New Year festival in a spatial- temporal, but not in a quadripartite manner. A ritual-symbolic re-enactment of the creation story was accordingly not made since only one cardinal direction of the world is ritual defined in this spatial-temporal ritual.

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