In my final post (of three) on Gronemeyer and MacLeod’s article I will discuss the possible meaning of the event that is associated with the 2012 circus. This is an event that features the deity Bolon Yokte’ K’uh. The Mayanists Markus Eberl and Christian Prager argue that this is a deity of transition associated with period endings and war and he attacks and destroys the supports of the sky (the pawahtu:n).
The final textual passage on Monument 6 at Tortuguero reads ye:n Bolon Yokte’ Ta Chak Joyaj. What is the meaning of this? Crucial here is the root concept joy. Prager argues that this is a general ritualistic topic with several acts that form a whole. Gronemeyer and MacLeod argue that three meanings are possible: enclosure, wrapping, and encircling motion or travel. Joy may refer to the enclosing of an effigy of the god in a shrine or to a ritual procession. It is possible that the constructors at Tortuguero planned to place the god effigy in the sanctuary associated with Monument 6. Whether or not this was believed to occur at the dedication of the building or at the end of 13 Baktun we can only speculate about.
Gronemeyer and MacLeod seem to favor the adornment/wrapping interpretation. Impersonators of Bolon Yokte’ K’uh often are depicted with a rope around their neck. They suggest that an image of the deity (or an impersonator) would be draped with certain regalia for celebrating the end of 13 Baktun. The authors connect Bolon Yokte’ K’uh with the contemporary Maximón in Santiago Atitlán since the latter consists of a framework of wood wrapped by a rope in a pattern similar to the pohp woven-mat. Such a mat-design is also an attribute of Bolon Yokte’ K’uh impersonators. The hanging of Maximón symbolizes the binding of the years. He is both a bundler of time and a bundle of time at the same time. Some of the Europeanized portrait heads of the K’atuns in the Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel have coiled rope-like elements around their necks. Apart from having connections to Bolon Yokte’ K’uh these faces could be expired k’atuns that have been “bound.”
In conclusion Gronemeyer and MacLeod suggests that il ye:n Bolon Yokte’ ta chak joyaj should be understood as “‘the seeing of the insignia/adornments of the god’ in a public display of office-taking, wherein the office is itself signaled by the attire and accessories of the god” (p 37). It should be obvious to anyone that there are no indications that the Maya were describing an apocalypse.