Chapter

Food For the Rain Gods

Johanna Kufer and Michael Heinrich

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813029535.003.0019
Food For the Rain Gods

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This chapter discusses the role of cacao in Ch'orti rain ceremonies and illustrates the complex relationship between subsistence farmers and their natural environment. For the Ch'orti and other Mayan groups, cacao has been a culturally meaningful plant because it symbolizes precious resources of water and plant growth. The regeneration of these resources must not be taken for granted. It requires yearly ritual activities as well as continuous protection of the neuralgic points of a fragile ecosystem needed for cacao plant growth. Other plant species have also been used for Maya rain rituals but in Ch'orti rain ceremonies, cacao seeds exceeds them all in importance because it is the only plant which unifies the characteristics of preference for shade and humidity, and an anthropomorphic structure with the rare quality of having dark seeds which mirror the darkness of caves, the night, the shade, and the rain. The dark cacao seeds make a complimentary opposite to maize. This pairing with the sacred maize plant, the basis of the Maya subsidence economy, makes the cacao unique among other culturally significant plants.

Keywords: cacao; rain ceremonies; Ch'orti rain ceremonies; Maya rain rituals; rain

Chapter.  8972 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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