General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 19 Oct 2020/3 Rain
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Article suitable for Top Juniors and above

Dr. Mark Van Stone

Question for October 2020

What does the hand gesture of the Maize God [on the Maya dish with the earth-turtle] mean? Asked by Putney High Junior School GDST. Chosen and answered by Dr. Mark Van Stone.

The Maya maize god emerges from the turtle of the earth; Maya Resurrection Plate, Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Kerr K1892
The Maya maize god emerges from the turtle of the earth; Maya Resurrection Plate, Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Kerr K1892 (Click on image to enlarge)

I think the Maize God is imitating the way the first leaves of maize look when they come up out of the ground. This gesture makes him look like Christ on the Cross, and made conversion of the Maya an easier job for Spanish priests.
Go to Mayavase.com, and click on the “Maya Vase Database” banner in upper left (which will take you to http://research.mayavase.com/kerrmaya.html). Then in the “Look for:” window, type the words, maize and resurrection, and you’ll get six vase paintings of this event. Two or three of these are not so clear, but you’ll get a couple that show the same scene as the Boston Maize God Resurrection (K1892, which shall also appear).
The vase database is a splendid diversion for anyone interested in going down the rabbit-hole of Maya iconography (interpreting the symbols in their art).

Picture sources:-
• Main image courtesy of, © and thanks to Justin Kerr, mayavase.com
• Small photo: downloaded fromhttps://www.agronomy.k-state.edu/extension/crop-production/corn/corn-growth-and-development.html.

See the main image in the Kerr Mayavase data base

Dr. Mark Van Stone has answered 6 questions altogether:

How rare was it to reach the age of 52?

Is it true that the Spanish didn’t like the taste of chocolate at first?

Does each of the 20 day signs mean [relate to] a particular quality (eg rabbit for speed...)?

Why did the Aztecs believe in so many heavens?

Were 4 gods linked to the 4 previous ‘worlds’?

What does the hand gesture of the Maize God [on the Maya dish with the earth-turtle] mean?

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