The Maya Maize God


Expressed in words and images long before the birth of Christ, the Maize God narrative was the most important meta-myth of the ancient Maya. It is the Maize God’s sacrifice and subsequent resurrection that expresses the central tenet of Maya religion—that death and sacrifice are preconditions for the renewal of the cosmos and for the regeneration of human life. Based on seasonal cycles of nature and the intergenerational cycles of human existence, this view was diametrically opposed to Catholic concepts of linear time and the trajectory of the human soul that were brought by Spanish conquistadores and priests. Despite five centuries of brutal suppression, these ancient beliefs transform (and even subvert) Christian rituals practiced today by traditional descendants of the Maya.

Retiring from over thirty years of teaching at UWGB, Karon Winzenz pursued her life-long interest in the ancient Maya, she returned to UWM to take a Master of Art History with a focus on Maya art. She currently teaches non-credit classes on the Maya, presents papers at conferences, and publishes essays related to the ritual and symbolic functions of Maya textiles.