Politics and Cosmology

The Maya Kings timed their accession rituals in tune with the stars and the Milky Way. They celebrated k'atun endings approximately every twenty years. At the end of the 20-year k'atun period, Maya rulers regularly erected a stela, called a stone tree, to commemorate the event. On stone stela they depicted themselves at the time of these ceremonies dressed in costumes that contained the symbols that were associated with the World Tree.

Their headdresses contained the Principal Bird Deity, in their arms they held a so-called ceremonial bar that represented the double-headed serpent of the ecliptic. By wearing the costume elements of the World Tree the Maya ruler linked himself to the sky, the gods and that essential ingredient, life. In addition, it has been found that when the k'atun ending coincided with certain planetary positions the Maya went to war to obtain captives.

The cosmology of the Maya was a living, religious philosophy that permeated their lives to a degree that might seem excessive to modern people. They were astute observers, sensitive to the cyclical nature of the sun, moon and planets.


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Updated: July 22 2005
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