A very interesting program to watch especially after seeing "Angels and Demons". That Church aligned with State could think of wiping out a culture by burning not only their written and illustrated books but also the thousands of Maya in what was ethnic cleansing was not just a vision of the Catholic missionaries, all conquering nations did it. The Maya had a good go at knocking themselves off in the name of religion. The miracle is that from fragments saved and temples uncovered, researchers have opened up the Mayan world for us to appreciate the wonders worked without the aid of the wheel, or it seems, 'peace in our time'.
The image above was shown in the program. It's of a high-born lady piercing her tongue with a stingray barb then pulling a thorny vine through to give her blood as an offering. David Stuart was interviewed for the show but while it made mention of one of his major breakthroughs in translating the glyphs, another wasn't mentioned.
He re-interpreted a particular symbol at Copan which had been believed to mean "blood" to mean "clouds". As the program pointed out, many symbols could mean the same but here was a
subtle refinement in regards to the offerings to the Gods.
Bloodletting, usually by the Mayan nobility or elite was regarded as the most valuable gift they could give. This aspect of Mayan culture coincided with the evolution of a highly stratified class system. It was the express duty of the nobility to perform the rituals that kept the natural and supernatural worlds in balance. The Gods bestowed life, humans returned acknowledgment of the gift.
They pierced not only tongues but earlobes and in the case of males, genitals. After the piercing, the blood dripped onto sheets of bark paper which was then burned, transformed into clouds of smoke that the Gods took in as sustenance and returned as life-giving rain. Now you can see that subtle refinement of meaning.
And if you think I would take pleasure in the thought of some bloke shoving a stingray barb through his crown jewells followed by a thorny vine, well, shame on you.