Article ID: CBB572326722

Disarticulated Dual Seasons And Maya Cosmology In Highland Maya Communities (2016)


Weather in Mayan areas of Chiapas, Mexico, conforms to two sets of annual climatic seasons, each comprised of two six-month periods: The Hot-Cold set divided by the axis of the Spring-to-Autumn Equinoxes (March 21-September 21), and the Wet-Dry set, divided by the axis of the Cross-Quarter (also called Mid- Quarter) day of May to that of November. The articulation of these two kinds of climatic years is noncongruent by one-half a quarter; e.g., the quarter delineated by the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice divides into a Hot-Dry (but transitioning to Wet) first half and a Hot-Wet second half; the shift occurs at the time immediately after the May Cross-Quarter day, which is also the water festival of Holy Cross. A similar dissonance occurs in the quarter running from the Autumnal Equinox to the Winter Solstice, the first half being Cold-Wet (but transitioning to Dry), and the second Cold-Dry, shifting near the November Mid-Quarter day when All Saints" is celebrated. Only the half-quarters bracketing the Summer and Winter Solstices are congruent. Weather data from the zone support these interpretations. Further evidence for disarticulated seasons comes from the staggered times of seasonal shift, from the placement of festivals and pilgrimages, and from parallels with human gestation, maize growth, and the human life cycle. These beliefs about when rains should begin or end and when warmth arises or abates to cold organize farming practices. Pilgrimages are made to influence deities to regulate water; most of these are concentrated around Cross-Quarter days. Many fiestas celebrated in home villages call for steady rain at the time of strongest plant growth. Others attend to patron and other local saints, including sacred natural landscape features, and may also be water related. Pilgrimages to distant sites initiate calls for rain (February, La Candelaria or San Caralampio) and requests for drying (September, San Matéo Ixtatán). Such climatic and cultural events structure Mayans" manipulation of water and organize faming practices, and they underscore the vegetative metaphor for the reproduction of all life, human and animal, as well as plant.

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Authors & Contributors
Iwaniszewski, Stanislaw
Aldana, Gerardo Villalobos
Gullberg, Steven
Moyano, Ricardo
Galindo Trejo, Jesús
Aylesworth, Grant R.
Archaeoastronomy: The Journal of Astronomy in Culture
Journal of Skyscape Archaeology
Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry
Archeoastronomy (Supplement to Journal for the History of Astronomy)
Journal for the History of Astronomy
University Press of Colorado
Mayan civilization
Time Periods
Precolumbian period (America)
9th century
8th century
15th century
Central America
Machu Picchu

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