Cacao in Ancient Maya Religion

Simon Martin

in Chocolate in Mesoamerica

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780813029535
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039503 | DOI:
Cacao in Ancient Maya Religion

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Ancient Maya, like other former agrarian societies of ancient times, had an abiding and intimate relationship with the natural world. Plants, trees, leaves, flowers, fruits, and roots were given a special niche in their system of symbols and these were firmly embedded into their spiritual outlook. Crops that were used as food sources were especially charged with religious sentiment and took pivotal roles in their mythic narratives. This chapter discusses the use and representations of Theobroma cacao L. in the ancient Maya religion. Cacao, as recent studies have indicated, was primarily used as a status marker and elite consumable as well as an important part of ritual and a rudimentary currency. This chapter focuses on the use of the cacao on Mayan theology. In this chapter, the art and writings of the Classic period, the Postclassic, and the Colonial periods are examined to pinpoint the specific use of the cacao in Mayan religion. The chapter examines the themes that surround the use of cacao in rituals and religion such as fertility, sustenance, sacrifice, regeneration, embodiment, and transformation.

Keywords: ancient Maya; use; representations; Theobroma cacao L; ancient Maya religion; rituals; Mayan religion; religion

Chapter.  10728 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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