Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday’s Mythological Creature of the Day -- Bacabs ( Bakabs ), Mayan Myths

Bacabs were four brothers, who were sky-bearers, standing at the four corners of the Universe: Hobnil -- the Guard of the East, his assigned color is red and the Kan years, Cantzicnal -- the Guard of the North, his assigned color is white and the Muluc years, Saccimi -- the Guard of the West, his assigned color is black and the Ix years, and Hosanek -- the Guard of the South, his assigned color is yellow and the Cauac years.

Bacabs are anthropomorphic creatures, but it is believed that the earlier years of the Mayan civilization associated them with the four animals (iguana, opossum, turtle, and snail) or some insects (i.e. spiders and honey bees). Hobnil was portrayed as the protector of the beekeepers in some documents.

Since they were Year Bearer patrons, the Bacabs were important in divination ceremonies. They were approached with questions about crops, weather, or the health of bees, and often invoked in curing rituals.
By the 15th century the four Bacabs got interconnected with the four Chaaks ( the 4 rain deities, associated with the four primary compass directions) and Pauahtuns (the 4 wind deities). Interestingly, there have been mentions of the Underworld Bacabs who were supporting the skies of the Underworld as well.

In Classic Maya iconography, the Bacab occurs in various stereotypical situations:
• Fourfold, the Bacabs are repeatedly shown carrying the slab of a throne or the roof of a building.
• Bacab inhabiting the Earth Turtle is part of the scenes with the resurrection of the Maya maize god.
• Still unexplained is a recurring scene in which the Bacab, half-hidden in his conch, is held by his wrist, about to be sacrificed with a knife.
If you want to know more, please check the following sites (including Wikipedia -- great reference section, BTW).




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