Religious Syncretism and its Consequences in Mayan Society Essay

Religious Syncretism and its Consequences in Mayan Society Essay

Length: 1206 words (3.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Religious Syncretism and its Consequences in Mayan Society

When Spaniards first set foot on Mesoamerican shores in the early sixteenth century, they encountered not the godless mass of natives they believed they found, but a people whose rich spiritual traditions shaped and sustained them for thousands of years. These diverse spiritual practices legitimized nearly every aspect of Mesoamerican daily life, from science and architecture to art and politics (Carmack 295), in many of the same ways Catholicism did in Spain. The collision of these cultures in the Great Encounter and the resulting Spanish colonial state mixed not solely two different peoples—Indian and Spanish—but thousands of variants: elites and slaves, peasant farmers and traders, priests and traders, organized and local spiritual customs, all with different degrees of diversity in their respective religious practices. This diversity set the stage for the syncretic religious traditions that emerged in Mayan society and remain a vital part of that culture today.

Syncretic refers to the "nature of ideas, deities, and practices that derive from historically distinct traditions that become reinterpreted and transformed in situations of a cultural encounter" (Carmack 303). The cultural encounter between Mesoamericans and the Catholic Church was a natural result of mutual needs. The Indians needed protection from the cruelties inflicted by Spanish colonists, and the Church in many ways fought for their basic human rights; the Church needed land and support for their missions, and the Indians provided provisions and labor in much the same fashion as they had been giving tribute to ruling elites for thousands of years (Fash). This arrangement gave missionaries access not only to the Indians’ bodies—in the form of sweat and labor—but also their hearts and souls.

The introduction of Christianity to native Mesoamericans, however, expressed itself in ways unexpected to the Catholic missionaries. For example, the concept of Jesus Christ—both in colonial Mesoamerica and today in thousands of Indian communities—became one of the several manifestations of the sun god (Carmack 304). The Virgin of Guadalupe, today the patron saint of Mexico, was and is embraced by Indians who interpreted her and the myth surrounding her 1531 appearance to Juan Diego in traditional spiritual custom: she is depicted as a d...


... middle of paper ...


...storical documents such as Altar Q at Copán and the codexes.

Other religious practices that resulted from the blending of ancient Mesoamerican and Catholic cultures in the diversity of colonial life include: the construction of churches and cathedrals on or near ancient temple sites; the ritual use of a fermented drink in spiritual practices (pulque and wine); public worship; incense; bundle cults; and many other "little traditions" (Carmack 304).

Myriad syncretic spiritual forms evolved during the era of colonial Mesoamerica, expressing both public devotional practices and private household rituals that many times were veiled from Church scrutiny (Carmack 308). These rituals, born in indigenous culture and adapted to the drastically changed socio-economic and political landscape of colonial life, represent some of the few remaining links to the region’s spiritual and historical past.

Bibliography:

Carlsen, Robert. The War for the Heart & Soul of a Highland Maya Town. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997.

Carmack, Robert, Janine Grasco, and Gary Gossen. The Legacy of Mesoamerica: History and Culture of a Native American Civilization. New York: Prentice Hall, 1996.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Religious Syncretism And Religious Beliefs Essay

- Religious syncretism is a blending of two or more religious beliefs or practices into a new system, or the merging into a new religious tradition of beliefs from different traditions. This can occur for many reasons, but happens quite frequently in areas where multiple religions exist nearby to each other and are active in the culture. When a culture is conquered, the conquerors bring their religious beliefs with them, but do not succeed in entirely wiping out the old beliefs or practices as they are too engrained....   [tags: Christianity, Religion, Judaism, Roman Empire]

Strong Essays
704 words (2 pages)

Religious Authority 's Relationship With Syncretism Essay

- Religious Authority’s Relationship to Syncretism Africa has served as a place of religious encounter and change. Within Africa there is a unique blend of traditional religion and Western religions such as Islam and Christianity. Even in the modern day, neither traditional nor Western religions have eliminated the other. The religions coexist harmoniously within the African mindset. However, the way these religions coexist is not simply in the blending of the two, but rather in a culture of oscillation....   [tags: Religion, Christianity, Islam]

Strong Essays
1181 words (3.4 pages)

Syncretism: Adapting Religious Beliefs to Traditional Customs Essay

- ... The early converts of Central and West Africa did not entirely abandon their old ways of life, they blended and understood the new religion through the old religions and practices. This method is known as syncretism and its practice was somewhat frowned upon, because it did not strictly follow the customs of Islam. It was seen as a tainted practice of Islam, due to the observance of pagan observances. As the Ghana kingdoms fell, their successor the Mali Empire, was built on the success of the dynasty’s founder, Sundiata, who is commonly referred to as Mali’s greatest king....   [tags: beliefs, transformed, kingdoms, subjects]

Strong Essays
831 words (2.4 pages)

Syncretism : The Link Between Judaism And Buddhism Essay

- Syncretism: The Link Between Judaism and Buddhism This paper will explore how early Judaism took from Canaan and other extraneous sources to create the Hebrew Bible as well as how Indo-Aryan and Dravidian beliefs lead to the creation of Buddhism. Because of the fact that cultures, religions, and customs blend together in order to create new societies and culture, also known as syncretism, (Hill, 01/25/16) the way Judaism and Buddhism’s notions on morality and ethics can be traced. In order to understand the correlation between Judaism, Hinduism and syncretism, one must understand the origins of both religions....   [tags: Torah, Bible, Judaism, Israelites]

Strong Essays
1395 words (4 pages)

Religious Freedom in Japan Essay

- Japan became one of the most industrialize countries in the world; it has grown rapidly in the economic arena, however, religious liberty in Japan is still in maturing. Different from the United States and other Western countries in where the principle of separation of church and state took place, Japanese tradition continues with the usual patter in where governments control religion. Most Japanese people do not identify themselves adherent to a single religion; instead they incorporate different elements from various religions....   [tags: Materialistic Society, Religious Beliefs]

Strong Essays
1474 words (4.2 pages)

Essay on The Consequences Of Marriage On Society

- Multidisciplinary paper: Marriage Introduction The consequences of marriage can influence the society as a whole. It affects both the personal life and all other institutions as well. When marriages flourish the nation and the society will rise and when divorce comes along and the marriages fail the society falls apart as well. We can see the consequences of wrong marriages in next generations on our children. The most essential need of human is to have life. Life is more than breathing or eating, it’s about protection, secureness and helping one another....   [tags: Marriage, Family, Same-sex marriage, Husband]

Strong Essays
1183 words (3.4 pages)

Current Outbreak of Dengue and Its Consecuences in Health and Society Essay

- With the current dengue outbreak being the worst since 2010, deaths from this dangerous disease have reached 25 from more than 12,000 people infected. The four fold increase in rates from last year shows this years outbreak reaching worrying heights. A number of measures are being taken to try and contain the outbreak and stabilise numbers as the year progresses. These include the use of BTi for the first time in Malaysia by the MoH and local councils in fogging programs, the continuing development of a tetravalent vaccine that's in the late stages of clinical trials....   [tags: Malaysia, Mosquitoes]

Strong Essays
578 words (1.7 pages)

Religious Practice And Boundaries Of The United States Essay

- An Dang (011902252) R/ST 302 Professor Pandya April 29, 2015 Religious Practice And Boundaries The vastly different traditions of religion forms in the United States show that how diversity of worldwide people merged into one society and formed separate traditions all while dealing boundaries between religions in America. The mystery of religious belief beyond the definition is still and will always be a much-debated topic. Regardless of whether these arguments are ever resolved, it is important to bear in mind about the powers from Albanese‘s theory, which is a system of symbols by means of which people orient themselves in a world with reference to both ordinary and extraordinary powers, m...   [tags: Religion, Christianity, Religious pluralism]

Strong Essays
1061 words (3 pages)

Essay on Native American Religions

- Over the century Native American religions have been repressed and misunderstood. There has been little room for them to actually be able to explain their rituals and why it is important to them as a society. This ignorance’s has resulted in the loss of land, false practices with sacred objects, and a lack of education within the rituals of indigenous religions. The indigenous population deserves support to preserve their practices and language. Since most of these religions have been repressed for so long many elders do not wish to teach their kin about their religion in fear of rejection from the modern society....   [tags: society, rituals, religious freedom]

Strong Essays
1152 words (3.3 pages)

Religious Practices Surrounding Death Essay examples

- Religious Practices Surrounding Death One of the most beautiful things about America is being in a melting pot full of different people, cultures, religions, ideas and beliefs. Culture and religious affiliation make individuals who they are. They influence decisions made while living and greatly influence decisions surrounding death. Death practices differ in each culture and often religion heavily influences these practices. In 2010, 715,000 people died in hospitals across the United States (Fox, 2013)....   [tags: christianity, culture, religions]

Strong Essays
965 words (2.8 pages)