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Ep: Mayan word for center "direction"?

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  • Jim Gomez
    Listeros, My first post got garbled somehow. Must have been a bad keyboard I got a hold of--will try again. ... Among the Tzotziles of Zinacantan [1], the
    Message 1 of 9 , Oct 1, 2001
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      My first post got garbled somehow. Must have been a bad keyboard
      I got a hold of--will try again.

      Curt Rosengren <curt@...> wrote:

      >The Mayans, if I understand correctly, saw "center" as a cardinal
      >point (in addition to north, south, east, and west). I'm trying
      >to find what the Mayan word for that center "direction" is, as
      >well as more details about the concept itself.
      >Does anybody know? Or do you have any suggestions for other
      >resources I might turn to?

      Among the Tzotziles of Zinacantan [1], the "navel of the earth"
      is referred to as the "Mishik Balamil" situated within, or at a
      small rounded mound, surrounded by four larger hills where the
      Vashak-Men (Sky Bearers) are believed to dwell. This term can be
      compared to the Chumala word "Smisik Banamil" [2] which is also
      regarded as a "navel of the earth" pertaining to their ceremonial

      A similar configuration can be found among the Yucatec Maya [3]
      of Landa's time, where four Balams (or Four Corners, of modern
      days] were believed to guard the community, with the fifth Balam,
      called Thup (The Little One) dwelling in the center of the
      community. Thup appears to be the equivalent of the modern
      Lacandon T'uup ("little one," youngest son of the Hachakyum, and
      associated with the sun). In Lacandon narrative, T'uup is believed
      to have planted a giant cedar next to the house of the gods at
      Palenque [4] and is also associated with the a giant Ceiba next
      to the house of our Lord at Yaxchilan, where he is said to have
      danced and sung.

      And in the Chilam Balam of Tizimin [5], the central green Imix
      Tree is referred to as the "Yax Imix Che" in the middle of the
      land "T u chumuc cab," and surrounded by four other Imix trees.
      The color associated with the central 5th point here is green, or
      green-blue, and has obvious connections with the symbolism of the
      quetzal and jade (cf. the Imix Tree imagery of Izapa stela #25).

      The interior of mountains / hills / trees / ceremonial center as
      dwelling places of supernaturals suggests that the central point
      can also be conceived as a direction (e.g., internally directed),
      and not only as a place-point; thereby pointing possibly to the
      interior world of supernaturals when seers reference the center.

      It is tempting to further speculate about the nature of this
      central point, especially when thinking of the theoretical world
      of hyperspace [6] and its various dimensions, that is, if one
      should desire to attempt to give these conceptions further
      analytical standing.



      [1] 1981 E. Z. Vogt, "Some Aspects of the Sacred Geography of
      Highland Chiapas," in Mesoamerican Sites and World
      Views, Elizabeth Benson ed., p. 221. Washington D.C.:
      Dumbarton Oaks.

      [2] 1974 S. G. Gossen, Chamulas in the World of the Sun: Time
      and Space in a Maya Oral Tradition, pp. 5-8. Harvard
      University Press.

      [3] 1973 A. Villa Rojas, "The Concepts of Time and Space Among
      the Contemporary Maya," in Time and Reality in the
      Thought of the Maya, M. Leon-Portilla ed., p.124.
      Boston: Beacon Press.

      [4] 1982 M. S. Edmonson, The Ancient Future of the Itza,: The
      Book of the Chilam Balam of Tizimin, pp. 48-49. Austin:
      University of Texas.

      [5] 1982 D. Boremanse, "A Comparative Study in Lacandon Maya
      Mythology," Journal de la Societte Des Americanistes,
      pp. 79-80.

      [6] 1994 M. Kaku, Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through
      Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension.
      Oxford University Press.
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