Maya rites, rituals, and ceremonies

Authored by: Miguel Astor-Aguilera

The Maya World

Print publication date:  June  2020
Online publication date:  June  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138492837
eBook ISBN: 9781351029582
Adobe ISBN:


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Maya ritual production focuses on restructuring and/or transforming, through generative actions, speech, and performance, inter-relationships between other beings, be they human or non-human and visible or invisible. The Maya ritual process seeks meaning construction or meaning reorganization through the shaping or reshaping of actors by making particular cultural orientations reflective of social life. Since rituals attempt to restructure social meaning (Ortner 1978: 5), determining if a past action is a ritual or not, including the burning of objects and/or structures, presents interpretational problems. Maya skeletal remains and contextual artifacts indicate continual social relations between the living, the ancestors, the homeland, and quotidian cultural production. Performative actions for Indigenous populations are common and this chapter negates the assumption that Maya rite, ritual, and ceremony are inherently religious.

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