- Portrait of Maya king in bloodletting rites

Object Name: Portrait of Maya king in bloodletting rites
Creation Date: 200-900 AD
Culture: Classic Maya
Site: Jaina
Image source: CSULA Art Dept Visual Resources
The Maya, like all human societies, performed rituals and ceremonies to communicate with the forces that governed their lives. To the ancient Maya, the main purpose of ritual was the procuring of life, health, and substance. The rulers of Maya centers performed sacrifices of their own blood. These rulers are depicted as bloodletters, drawing blood from the foreskin of the penis, a ritual of seemingly obvious symbolic meaning for human fertility. The blood was apparently absorbed by bark-paper strips contained in pottery vessels, and burned as offerings.

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