Maya Spooks

Maya Decipherment

K’ahk’ U Ti’ Suutz’, “Fire-Mouthed Bat,” a common wahy demon on Classic Maya vases (Drawing by D. Stuart).

Around this time of year I often give my “Maya Spooks” lecture to students here at UT-Austin, highlighting the grisly and fright-filled demons (wahyoob) of Classic Maya art and religion. The lecture title is “Spooks, Witchcraft and the ‘Dark Side’ of Maya Art and Rulership (a.k.a. The Halloween Lecture).”  This semester I’m teaching on the Aztecs, so in lieu of lecturing I hereby post my brief treatment of the subject written back in 2005. This write-up was part of the larger sourcebook I put together for the Austin Maya Meetings that year, devoted to “Glyphs on Pots: Decoding Classic Maya Ceramics.”

My own thinking on wahy beings keeps being refined somewhat. I still see them as animate dark forces wielded by court sorcerers, perhaps even rulers themselves, in order to inflict harm…

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