By James L. Fitzsimmons
Like their regal opposite numbers in societies worldwide, historical Maya rulers departed this international with complicated burial ceremonies and extravagant grave items, which regularly incorporated ceramics, pink pigments, earflares, stingray spines, jades, pearls, obsidian blades, and mosaics. Archaeological research of those burials, in addition to the decipherment of inscriptions that list Maya rulers' funerary rites, have opened a desirable window on how the traditional Maya envisaged the ruler's passage from the area of the residing to the area of the ancestors. concentrating on the vintage interval (AD 250-900), James Fitzsimmons examines and compares textual and archaeological proof for rites of dying and burial within the Maya lowlands, from which he creates versions of royal Maya funerary habit. Exploring old Maya attitudes towards loss of life expressed at recognized websites reminiscent of Tikal, Guatemala, and Copan, Honduras, in addition to less-explored archaeological destinations, Fitzsimmons reconstructs royal mortuary rites and expands our figuring out of key Maya options together with the afterlife and ancestor veneration.
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Additional resources for Death and the Classic Maya Kings (Linda Schele Series in Maya and Pre-Columbian Studies)
Research into the nature of death rituals and ancestor worship among the Classic Maya kings has implications for the study of the burials of elites and commoners. Being able to reconstruct not only the rituals involved but also the ideas that drove them highlights the similarities and diﬀerences of a belief system spanning the Maya lowlands. While Classic texts were written by and for native and visiting dignitaries, some of the largest results of royal mortuary practice—in the form of temples and other large-scale monuments—were visible to individuals outside the royal sector.
While Classic texts were written by and for native and visiting dignitaries, some of the largest results of royal mortuary practice—in the form of temples and other large-scale monuments—were visible to individuals outside the royal sector. In a sense, the way in which Classic Maya kings represented death communicated it to others. Th is is not to say that belief systems were wholly shared between royal, elite, and nonelite groups, but it is at least probable that commoners learned where their rulers were going after death.
The death of the white breath (sak ik’) is at present unclear; diﬀerences in ideas about death at Tonina and Palenque may be manifested by such variations in phrasing. In one example of the k’a’ay u sak “ﬂower” ik’ phrase, on a looted onyx bowl, there is an addition to the usual death expression: k’a’ay u sak “ﬂower” ik u tis, “it ﬁnishes, his ﬂower breath, his ﬂatulence” (Figure 15). Given the obvious biological associations of ﬂatulence with death, it is possible that the contrast between these two breaths is really a contrast between the breath of life and the breath of death.
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