Mayan Culture Area


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Describes Mayan Culture Area, including calendrical systems, Spanish conquest, corporate community structures, and current situation in Chiapas and Guatemala

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  • Mayan Culture Area

    1. 1. The Maya Culture Area Peasant Societies: Past and Present
    2. 2. Overview of the Mayan Culture Area <ul><li>The Maya are best known for the following: </li></ul><ul><li>A complex system of calendars (upper left) </li></ul><ul><li>A numerical system based on 20 </li></ul><ul><li>Steep sided stone pyramids with combs, such as this one at Tikal (lower left) </li></ul><ul><li>Intricate weaving </li></ul><ul><li>Religion combining Christianity with Maya world of the spirits. </li></ul><ul><li>Primary focus will be on Guatemala </li></ul>
    3. 3. Mayan Culture Area: Mexico and Guatemala <ul><li>The Maya Culture Area includes Chiapas (purple) </li></ul><ul><li>The Yucatan Peninsula (Northeast on map) </li></ul><ul><li>Guatemala (gray shade, first in Central America) along with Belize, Honduras and El Salvador </li></ul>
    4. 4. Guatemala: By Way of Introduction <ul><li>Imagine you check into a hotel room </li></ul><ul><li>After two hours, two soldiers enter your room, search it for a few minutes, and leave </li></ul><ul><li>You go to the desk to find out what happened; the clerk hasn’t a clue what was going on—or won’t say </li></ul><ul><li>Imagine another scenario: </li></ul><ul><li>You receive a note: “Don’t worry about your funeral. It’s all paid for down to the flowers.” </li></ul><ul><li>The first: happened to my wife and me in 1969 </li></ul><ul><li>The second: a lawyer advocating for human rights in 1982. </li></ul><ul><li>Welcome to Guatemala! </li></ul>
    5. 5. Guatemala: The Land of Eternal Springtime <ul><li>It is a lovely country; mountainous, scenic lakes like Lake Atitlan with volcanos in the background </li></ul><ul><li>There are nicely appointed hotels with great scenery in Panajachel—the site of Sol Tax’s Penny Capitalism about the Indian market there </li></ul><ul><li>(I don’t think this capitalist model’s name is Penny—but who knows?) </li></ul>
    6. 6. Guatemala: The Land of Eternal Markets and Fiestas <ul><li>And of course the community has markets, like this one in Chichicastenango </li></ul><ul><li>Whose decorative weavings can be had by the highest (tourist) bidder </li></ul><ul><li>Not to mention fiestas </li></ul><ul><li>Where the Dance of the Conquest (Baile de Conquista) mocks the conqueror </li></ul><ul><li>Pedro de Alvarado, who entered the Plains of Xelaju in 1524 and defeated the indigenous military chieftain Tecun Uman there. </li></ul>
    7. 7. Guatemala: Tourists and Peasants <ul><li>Yes, I recommend Guatemala for a visit </li></ul><ul><li>If you’re a tourist, that is (The Maya Inn is great !) </li></ul><ul><li>However, if you are a peasant, present or former, then that can be another story </li></ul><ul><li>I don’t recommend the real Maya inn </li></ul><ul><li>These women are not your standard models, except for the real Guatemala </li></ul>
    8. 8. Guatemala: La Tierra del Terror Eterno <ul><li>Of course, Guatemala is a democracy </li></ul><ul><li>You are free to protest these conditions if you are so inclined (above) </li></ul><ul><li>Such as those protesting the passage of CAFTA; the sign calls President Berger an assassin </li></ul><ul><li>There is one drawback though </li></ul><ul><li>You just might wind up dead </li></ul><ul><li>(Two were killed at that CAFTA protest, and ten wounded) </li></ul><ul><li>As I said, welcome to Guatemala </li></ul>
    9. 9. Guatemala and Chiapas <ul><li>Both Chiapas, Mexico, and Guatemala have the following in common: </li></ul><ul><li>Mayan-speaking peasants populate the rural areas </li></ul><ul><li>Both were subjected to states—first the Maya kingdoms, then Spanish overlords, and now independent states </li></ul><ul><li>Both form the backwaters of the national, and now globalized, economy </li></ul>
    10. 10. Mayan Culture Area: Pre-Columbian Sites <ul><li>Principal Mayan Sites </li></ul><ul><li>Palenque: Political center; Pakal’s tomb, temple of the Inscriptions </li></ul><ul><li>Copan: Site of 18 Rabbit, recorded history; major site of Mayan Collapse, AD 900 </li></ul><ul><li>Chichen Itza: site of Toltec conquest of Maya, AD 1000 </li></ul><ul><li>Tikal: Ceremonial and Mayan market center </li></ul>
    11. 11. Theocracies <ul><li>Maya: Divine kingships may have been city states </li></ul><ul><li>Kings symbolized by lilies and fish that were life-giving to raised fields. </li></ul><ul><li>The calendars were the sources of history—and predicting the future </li></ul><ul><li>Writing recorded the events of Mayan history and society—from the elite standpoint </li></ul>
    12. 12. Mesoamerican Writing <ul><li>Main writing systems: Mayan, Aztec, Zapotec, Mixtec </li></ul><ul><li>Writing systems: Phonetic, Pictographic, Ideographic were all present </li></ul><ul><li>Writing Media included: </li></ul><ul><li>Codices: Writing on skins or bark (such as the Dresden codex, upper left </li></ul><ul><li>Murals: of pictures similar to writing </li></ul><ul><li>Stone carvings on pyramids (such as the glyphs on the stairs of this pyramid in Copan, lower left) </li></ul><ul><li>Stelae: stone tablets </li></ul>
    13. 13. Mayan Writing System: Logosyllabic <ul><li>An emblem glyph, represented by a knot in center, representing hair knot in back </li></ul><ul><li>Prefix has two symbols ku and ajaw, which together mean “Supreme Lord” </li></ul>
    14. 14. Mayan Numerical System <ul><li>To decipher numerals, see next slide </li></ul>
    15. 15. Commonalities of Meso-American Peoples: Counting Systems <ul><li>Counting Systems </li></ul><ul><li>A Base 20 (vigesimal) counting system </li></ul><ul><li>Numerical systems and placeholding </li></ul><ul><li>Zero: a shell </li></ul><ul><li>One: a dot </li></ul><ul><li>Five: a bar </li></ul><ul><li>Places are vertical </li></ul><ul><li>Illustration: see chart, preceding panel </li></ul>
    16. 16. Mayan Numerals Used in Long Count Calendar <ul><li>The Maya also used a long count calendar based on these numerals. </li></ul><ul><li>See next page for deciphering this chart. </li></ul>
    17. 17. Calendrical Systems: Mayan Long Count <ul><li>Long Count: linear dating system of Maya history </li></ul><ul><li>Units included the following: </li></ul><ul><li>Kin: day </li></ul><ul><li>Uinals: 20 kins </li></ul><ul><li>Tun: 18 uinals or 360 kins </li></ul><ul><li>Katuns: 20 tuns or 360 uinals or 7200 kins </li></ul><ul><li>Baktuns: 20 katuns or 400 tuns or 7200 uinals, or 144,000 kins </li></ul><ul><li>Use in dating of historical documents and glyphs </li></ul><ul><li>3114 BC the most widely accepted base date, when calendar first began </li></ul>
    18. 18. Calendar Systems: Lunar Calendar Round (Tzolkin) <ul><li>See explanation on diagram or in next panel </li></ul>
    19. 19. Calendrical Systems: Lunar Calendar <ul><li>Lunar calendar: 2 cogged (toothed) “wheels” </li></ul><ul><li>13 numbered days </li></ul><ul><li>20 named days (animal, plant, or other natural object) </li></ul><ul><li>Used for divination—predicting the future or revealing the unknown </li></ul><ul><li>This was known as the Tzolkin </li></ul>
    20. 20. Solar Calendar: The Haab <ul><li>Left: The tzolkin or lunar calendar </li></ul><ul><li>Right: the haab, or solar calendar </li></ul><ul><li>Day (purple shade) shows four-part date (13 Ahau of lunar calendar meshing with 18 cumku of the solar calendar </li></ul><ul><li>Se next panel for explanation </li></ul>
    21. 21. Calendrical Systems: Lunar and Solar Calendar <ul><li>The system also had a third calendar, the 365 “vague” or solar year (the Haab) </li></ul><ul><li>Divided into 18 months of 20 days each </li></ul><ul><li>Five intercalary days at end of year to bring number up to 365 days </li></ul><ul><li>The lunar and solar calendars “meshed” day by day with four elements each day </li></ul><ul><li>Example in diagram: 13 ahau (lunar) 18 cumku (solar) </li></ul><ul><li>Solar and lunar calendars began with same number: 1 and Reed, every 52 years </li></ul><ul><li>The 52 nd year was one of crisis </li></ul><ul><li>The world would undergo renewal—or destruction </li></ul>
    22. 22. Calendars, Syncretism, and Peasants <ul><li>The Calendar system has persisted to the present </li></ul><ul><li>Shamans use the calendar to make their predictions </li></ul><ul><li>With the Spanish Conquest, the Mayan adopted the elements of both Christianity and Mayan beliefs </li></ul><ul><li>The calendar is but one </li></ul>
    23. 23. Origin of Corn <ul><li>Although squash was the first cultivated crop, corn became the mainstay of the Mayan (and other Mesoamericans) </li></ul><ul><li>Left: Teosinte and Corn Stalks </li></ul><ul><li>Right: Teosinte ear (left), Hybrid (center), and Maize ear (right) </li></ul>
    24. 24. Maize and Deities among the Maya <ul><li>Development of larger and more varied corn (maize) occurred rapidly (upper left) </li></ul><ul><li>Intensification meant the need to settle down and displaced nomadic foragers. </li></ul><ul><li>It is hardly surprising that maize became deified (as this carving of the god of maize represents, lower left) </li></ul><ul><li>The corn god was one of several deities—and they took on names of Catholic saints after conquest. </li></ul>
    25. 25. The Cross: A Case of Syncretism <ul><li>The cross was one symbol the Maya readily adopted. </li></ul><ul><li>The Christian cross—sacrifice of Jesus Christ to bear the burden of men’s sins </li></ul><ul><li>To the Maya, the tree of life was the ceiba tree (lower left) </li></ul><ul><li>The trunk grows straight and the branches grows in four cardinal directions </li></ul><ul><li>The canopy is the home of bats (underworld creatures) </li></ul><ul><li>This is the navel of the world </li></ul>
    26. 26. Maya at the Eve of the Conquest <ul><li>Sociopolitical Organization </li></ul><ul><li>Patrilineal Clans </li></ul><ul><li>Joint Land Tenure </li></ul><ul><li>Warring Kingdoms: Quiche dominated </li></ul><ul><li>Tributaries to various cycles of states, including Toltec </li></ul><ul><li>Calendrical System </li></ul><ul><li>Base 20 system of numbers </li></ul><ul><li>Writing combining glyph types </li></ul>
    27. 27. The Spanish Conquest of the Maya <ul><li>In 1523, Pedro de Alvarado, one of Cortez’s lieutenants entered southern Mexico </li></ul><ul><li>Southern Mexico conquered in 1523 </li></ul><ul><li>Conquest of Xelajú and Utatlán in 1524 </li></ul><ul><li>Protracted wars: Yucatan campaign ended in 1546 </li></ul><ul><li>Lake Petén was not conquered until 1692 </li></ul>
    28. 28. Factors in the Mayan Conquest <ul><li>Surrender of one Mayan city state did not mean the conquest of all </li></ul><ul><li>This meant they had to be subjugated one by one </li></ul><ul><li>There was a disincentive: southeastern Mexico and Guatemala lacked gold or silver found elsewhere in New Spain (Mexico) </li></ul><ul><li>Central America was not a priority in the Conquest or in colonization </li></ul>
    29. 29. A Sequence of Post-Conquest Cultures (La Farge) <ul><li>Conquest Period: 1521-1600s </li></ul><ul><li>Colonial Indian: 1600s-1724 (abolition of the enconmienda) </li></ul><ul><li>Transition Period: 1724-1821 (consolidation of Indian communities) </li></ul><ul><li>Recent Indian I: 1821-1880s (Conservative Era) </li></ul><ul><li>Recent Indian II: 1880-Present </li></ul>
    30. 30. Spanish Colonization: Town Government <ul><li>Offices were staffed by Indians themselves </li></ul><ul><li>Enforced the quota system of labor </li></ul><ul><li>Assessed each household for tribute </li></ul><ul><li>Administered the allocation of land </li></ul><ul><li>Handled other daily affairs </li></ul><ul><li>Structure of Local Indian Government: </li></ul><ul><li>Caciques (chiefs) became the administrators </li></ul><ul><li>Alcaldes (mayors) and regidores (council) made the decision </li></ul><ul><li>Mayores were the police and messengers </li></ul>
    31. 31. Spanish Colonization: Religious Governance <ul><li>Priests directed the town’s church </li></ul><ul><li>Sacristans oversaw church’s daily administration </li></ul><ul><li>Cofradias or officers were assigned care of each saint and its celebration </li></ul><ul><li>Alter boys handled menial chores </li></ul><ul><li>Syncretism: Each saint “fronted” for indigenous spirit </li></ul>
    32. 32. Closed Corporate Communities <ul><li>Communities were both closed and corporate </li></ul><ul><li>Corporate </li></ul><ul><li>Estate: communal land </li></ul><ul><li>Body of rights and obligations </li></ul><ul><li>Rights: usufruct land rights </li></ul><ul><li>Obligations: community service </li></ul><ul><li>Focus of service: civil-religious hierarchy </li></ul>
    33. 33. Communities as Corporate: Civil-Religious Hierarchy <ul><li>Civil and religious organizations became fused into a theocracy </li></ul><ul><li>Hierarchy of offices </li></ul><ul><li>Lowest: messengers, police </li></ul><ul><li>Middle level mayordomo of cofradias (religious brotherhoods or “committees”) </li></ul><ul><li>Upper level: mayors, council, top cofrades </li></ul><ul><li>Service in the civil-religious hierarchy was obligatory </li></ul><ul><li>Financial support of office came from the members themselves </li></ul><ul><li>They had to provide yearlong service without pay </li></ul>
    34. 34. Communities as Corporate: Civil-Religious Hierarchy <ul><li>Course of a Cargo Career: </li></ul><ul><li>Youths began as messengers </li></ul><ul><li>Early to middle age: many became mayordomos, officials of the cofradia </li></ul><ul><li>Elders became senior officeholders: councillors. mayors, senior mayordomos </li></ul><ul><li>Principales or pasados (e.g. moletik in Zinacantan) were honored elders who completed the cargo career </li></ul><ul><li>Leveling mechanism of wealth from the costs of cargo led to reduced stratification </li></ul><ul><li>Individual wealth was thus directed to good of the community </li></ul>
    35. 35. Communities as Closed: Structural Barriers <ul><li>Community endogamy: individual could marry only within the community </li></ul><ul><li>Community “markers” included the following: </li></ul><ul><li>Distinctive dress style that identified one’s village (zigzag blouse design identifies this woman from Almolonga) </li></ul><ul><li>Dialects that differed among villages </li></ul><ul><li>Product specialization within a community </li></ul><ul><li>Regional markets connected local economies like his one in Chichi-castenango </li></ul><ul><li>Semimonopoly of crafts would ensure demand of each community’s products </li></ul>
    36. 36. Regional Economies of Colonial Central America <ul><li>Hostile symbiosis existed between haciendas (landed estates) and closed corporate communities, which provided the reserve labor </li></ul><ul><li>Conservatives also fought liberals </li></ul><ul><li>Conservatives: economic strategy would maintain national self-sufficiency </li></ul><ul><li>Liberals: Wealth was possible only through economic development and external commerce </li></ul>
    37. 37. Liberal Reformas: Roots <ul><li>Economic Strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Country needs to industrialize </li></ul><ul><li>Key: Produce exports </li></ul><ul><li>Guatemala: lucrative export proved to be coffee </li></ul><ul><li>Origins: Costa Rica had a booming coffee economy by 1840s </li></ul><ul><li>In 1860, coffee proved successful </li></ul><ul><li>Justo Rufino Barrios assumed office in 1871 (above) </li></ul><ul><li>Cantel: Site of a massacre of an entire town council in 1884 </li></ul>
    38. 38. Liberal Reformas: Land <ul><li>Rationale for Land Reforms under the liberal </li></ul><ul><li>Coffee farms needed land “locked” in communal land </li></ul><ul><li>Incentive lacking for Indians to plant the crop </li></ul><ul><li>Land Reforms </li></ul><ul><li>Privatization: only land registered to private individuals was recognized </li></ul><ul><li>Result: land grabs were made of communal property </li></ul><ul><li>Some communities vanished; others were restructured </li></ul>
    39. 39. Liberal Reforma: Labor <ul><li>Coffee requires massive labor inputs </li></ul><ul><li>Tending seedlings, weeding, and </li></ul><ul><li>Picking and processing beans (left) </li></ul><ul><li>Labor Reforms: </li></ul><ul><li>Restoration of labor quota system </li></ul><ul><li>Debt peonage was legalized </li></ul><ul><li>Fincas de mozos: worker-producing farms </li></ul><ul><li>Vagrancy laws (1930s) </li></ul>
    40. 40. Liberal Reforma: Impact on Communities <ul><li>Land became a commodity </li></ul><ul><li>Communal land mostly nonarable </li></ul><ul><li>Communities became dependent on labor markets </li></ul><ul><li>Corporate institutions eroded </li></ul><ul><li>Politics dominated political part of the civil-religious hierarchy </li></ul><ul><li>Religious movements entered communities </li></ul><ul><li>“ True” Catholicism displace folk beliefs </li></ul><ul><li>Protestantism entered the scene. </li></ul>
    41. 41. Precursors of the Revolution <ul><li>The heavy handed of successive dictators maintained an oligarchy of 20 families though the years </li></ul><ul><li>This period culminated in the Ubico regime </li></ul><ul><li>Peasants were subject to vagrancy laws </li></ul><ul><li>Either they had to plant so many acres of land in cash crops or larger amounts in corn and beans </li></ul><ul><li>Or they had to work 100 or 150 days as day laborers </li></ul><ul><li>Ubico provided liberal deals with the United Fruit Company, constructing railways oriented toward the east coast of Puerto Barrios </li></ul><ul><li>Road and telegraph networks strengthened his hand </li></ul>
    42. 42. The Policies of the Revolution <ul><li>Social reforms introduced, reversed </li></ul><ul><li>Labor legislation </li></ul><ul><li>Land redistribution </li></ul><ul><li>Civil war of attrition </li></ul><ul><li>Guerrilla warfare involved Indian in 1980s </li></ul><ul><li>Communities bombed, mass emigration </li></ul><ul><li>Peace Accords of 1996 ended war </li></ul><ul><li>Guatemala has become part of global system of production. </li></ul>
    43. 43. The Revolution of 1944 <ul><li>In 1944, three young army officers directed a coup under the regime succeeding Gen Jorge Ubico </li></ul><ul><li>Juan Jose Arevalo was elected in 1945 (upper left) </li></ul><ul><li>Jacobo Arbenz was elected in 1951 </li></ul><ul><li>He accelerated the reforms begun by Arevalo </li></ul><ul><li>Here he announces the expropriation of United Fruit Company lands. (lower left) </li></ul><ul><li>The reforms were modeled after Roosevelt’s new deal </li></ul>
    44. 44. The Policies of the Revolution <ul><li>Social reforms introduced, </li></ul><ul><li>Labor legislation enacted in 1947 </li></ul><ul><li>Provided for a minimum wage, 8 hour day, and similar legislation </li></ul><ul><li>Land redistribution programs were introduced </li></ul><ul><li>The high point came when President Arbenz ordered the expropriation of unused acreage of United Fruit Company properties in 1952 </li></ul>
    45. 45. Guatemala: The Arbenz Reforms <ul><li>Jacobo Arbenz Guzman continued the reforms set by his predecessor </li></ul><ul><li>A major land reform was the expropriation of large unused holdings of the United Fruit Company and its redistribution to the peasants </li></ul><ul><li>Much of the land had been rendered useless by sikatoka, a disease that attacks banana plant </li></ul><ul><li>As compensation, the government offered an amount based on the declared value of the land for taxes. </li></ul><ul><li>The company demanded compensation at the full market value </li></ul><ul><li>This set the stage for the overthrow, in 1954, of the Arbenz administration </li></ul>
    46. 46. The Counterrevolution of 1954 <ul><li>In 1952, President Arbenz expropriated land that had been out of production because of Panama Disease, that leaves the land useless for growing bananas </li></ul><ul><li>In response, under pressure from United Fruit Company, the CIA sponsored a coup in Guatemala City </li></ul><ul><li>All reforms were reversed </li></ul><ul><li>Left: typical Chiquita ad juxtaposed with a banana worker </li></ul>
    47. 47. The Civil War of Guatemala <ul><li>Began in 1960, shortly after the counterrevolution of 1954 </li></ul><ul><li>Guerrillas operated in the eastern zones of Guatemala to restore the reformist government </li></ul><ul><li>The rebellion was crushed in Zacapa in 1966 </li></ul><ul><li>Col. Carlos Arana, seen here with U.S. military advisors, earned the name “The Butcher of Zacapa” </li></ul><ul><li>He became the president of Guatemala in 1970 </li></ul><ul><li>Yet remaining factions continued the war </li></ul>
    48. 48. Involvement of Indian Communities <ul><li>In 1978, a landowner in northern Guatemala was assassinated. </li></ul><ul><li>This expanded the civil war into western Guatemala </li></ul><ul><li>Entire villages were bombed </li></ul><ul><li>Indians would be herded into schools or churches, which were then set afire </li></ul><ul><li>Many Guatemalans left their communities to the border regions of Mexico (upper left) </li></ul><ul><li>As these coffins show, many were not so lucky (lower left) </li></ul>
    49. 49. Disappearances <ul><li>A terror technique of kidnapping and murder was created under Gen. Peralta in the 1960s </li></ul><ul><li>Torture was commonplace, and outright murder </li></ul><ul><li>These photos provide evidence of these murders in Chontala, Guatemala </li></ul><ul><li>A boy with hands tied and shot in the back of the neck </li></ul><ul><li>A recovered skull, as if screaming—and perhaps was at the time of the murder </li></ul>
    50. 50. Peace Accord of 1996 <ul><li>The war became an issue even among corporations because of instability </li></ul><ul><li>Finally, under President Arzu, the government negotiated with the five guerrilla groups organized under URNG </li></ul><ul><li>The guerrillas ceased operations under those terms and the government halted death squad activity </li></ul><ul><li>The refugees were able to come home. </li></ul><ul><li>Guatemala remains an area of investment, most recently of South Korean enterprises </li></ul>
    51. 51. Conclusion <ul><li>Guatemala is a classical Third World Country </li></ul><ul><li>It represents most countries of the Third World </li></ul><ul><li>African states are much worse of than Guatemala </li></ul><ul><li>Role of anthropologists: pronouncements of ethics, but little else. </li></ul><ul><li>With stories like these throughout Latin America, it is unsurprising that Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua are taking matters into their own hands. </li></ul>