The Survival Of The Yucatec Maya Culture

Better Essays

The era of Spanish Conquest often serves as an archetype for a clash of cultures and civilizations, sparking a myriad of intellectuals spanning the humanities to attempt to discern the most salient characteristics and processes that define the period. Historians Inga Clendinnen and George Lovell, both focus on the effect the landing of the conquistadors had on the indigenous Mayans, with their respective focuses standing in diametric opposition to one another. In “The Survival of the Yucatec Maya Culture,” Clendinnen stresses the importance of how Mayan tradition persisted through the traumas of conquest and the ruthless conversion campaign imposed by colonial leaders. Furthermore, she argues that despite the slaughters and disease that …show more content…

The indigenous leader’s willingness to show these sacred texts to the Spanish, lends great insight into how the Mayans rationalized Spanish conquest - the landing was not viewed as an unprecedented, forthcoming cultural calamity - but one that was forecasted within the cyclical framework of Mayan culture. Furthermore, this idea of the cyclical relationship between prophecy and history, enabled the Mayans to interpret Spanish dominance as something temporal. A provisional “eclipse” that they only needed to endure, in order to survive and reach the part of their historical cycle where “they would rule again.” This necessity to endure trying times in a cyclical process, was a mindset that enabled Mayan religious resilience to Spanish conversion (Clendinnen, pg. 384-85). Moreover, Clendinnen explains how culturally subjugated Mayans sought to endure the historical determined Spanish landing, through rebellion. When the indigenous population was required to both teach and learn Christian doctrine in schools - often times teachers “persisted in their traditional rituals…pretend[ing] to teach the Christian doctrine.” Furthermore, Clendinnen cites the research of historian Alfredo Barrera Vasquez, a 20th century Mayan scholar, in explaining how Mayans quickly adapted to the confiscation and subsequent burning of their sacred books by friars, by “transcrib[ing]”

Get Access