THE MAYANS HAD TWO MON­KEY GODS

World of Animals - - Monkey Gods -

For the Maya of the Amer­i­cas, the twin mon­key gods were im­por­tant gods of the arts and pa­trons of ar­ti­sans like scribes and sculp­tors.

One of the sto­ries of their ori­gins in­volves the Hero Twins – the cen­tral char­ac­ters in the old­est Maya leg­end recorded in full. The twins faced many tri­als, in­clud­ing de­feat­ing the lords of the Un­der­world in a game to avenge their father and killing demons be­fore trans­form­ing into the Sun and the Moon.

When they were grow­ing up the Hero Twins lived with their two older half-broth­ers, who were un­kind to them. These boys wanted to be re­spected as great crafts­men and feared that the new ar­rivals would steal their at­ten­tion, so they tried sev­eral times to kill them and later made them do chores while they played and re­laxed.

One day, the Hero Twins tricked their sib­lings into climb­ing a tree that grew un­til they could not come down. The loin­cloths they had been wear­ing turned into long tails, and the broth­ers turned into a spi­der mon­key and a howler mon­key. Be­cause of the dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties and be­hav­iours of these species, the spi­der mon­key came to be as­so­ci­ated with kind­ness, laugh­ter and joy, while the howler mon­key rep­re­sented duty, se­ri­ous­ness and hard work.

Rit­u­als with cos­tumes and danc­ing have recre­ated the story for cen­turies, and fes­tiv­i­ties like this are still tak­ing place in Cen­tral Amer­ica to­day to pre­serve and cel­e­brate Maya cul­ture.

ABOVE This

Maya statue was dis­cov­ered in Hon­duras and is po­ten­tially a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the howler mon­key god

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