The Crucifix in the Mayan Hut – Or the Lack Of
OCTOBER 5, 2017
This traditional Mayan hut is an example of the accomodation that the Maya would have lived in in Pre-Columbian times. It would have been just one among many homes built in the large city of Chichen Itza, surrounding the infamous Temple of Kukulkan.
A part of me felt strange standing there, posing for a typical tourist’s snapshot. It was a strange thought – us modern day foreigners strutting about curiously in these ancient people’s houses – something that would have been so ordinary and commonplace to them at the time, and yet in a large way, sacred because it was their home – but to us today, nothing more than a fascinating, touristic archaeological site to visit on a holiday. A mere tick off our traveller’s bucket-list. And yet here I was, like many others before me, flashing my broad tourist’s smile and neon pink Nikes against what would have once been a family’s abode.
Did they know that much of their original way of life as they knew it then would come to an end, only to largely be remembered by us North American visitors, so eagerly trading off our Uncle Sam’s dollars to see the remains of whatever was now left of this grand and ancient civilization?
I recall an interesting tidbit of information that our tour-guide humorously threw in about this particular Jesus-less shrine. For some reason, this story told in passing stuck with me till today, and I am remembered of it as I scroll through my pictures from the Yucatan.
The figure of a crucified Jesus hanging from the cross was then, and still is customary, particularly to the Catholic sect of the Christian faith. However, this particular shrine shows a lack of the crucified Jesus. According to our guide, when the Spanish were trying to spread Catholicism amongst the Maya, and thus dissuade them of their practice of human sacrifice, the Christian imagery of their own sacrificed God merely caused confusion to the newly converted Mayans. To the Mayans, it was seen as somewhat of a hypocritical gesture that the Spanish would dare condemn their sacrificial practices, when the basis of the Catholic faith is one of human sacrifice itself. Imagine that, that these Spaniards were attempting to forbid them of their human sacrifice, and yet here they were, performing a human sacrifice on someone they claim to be their own God!
In response to the Mayan’s exposing the obvious paradox in this new religion, the missionaries then removed the hanging Jesus figure from the crucifix.
I found this interesting piece of information to be quite humorously ironic.