OF BIRDS AND INSECTS: THE HUMMINGBIRD MYTH IN ANCIENT MESOAMERICA
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 September 2010
An important episode in Mesoamerican mythical narratives involves the abduction or impregnation of a tightly guarded maiden by a disguised god, against the will of her father or mother. This action precipitates major creational events that variously result in the origin of the sun, the moon, and human sustenance. Relying on a comparative analysis of versions recorded throughout Mesoamerica, this paper explores (a) representations of this episode in Maya art, where the suitor sometimes takes the shape of an insect; (b) the magical role of weaving and spinning, a recurrent theme in this mythical sequence; and (c) the relevance of Maya narratives for the interpretation of related passages in central Mexican mythology and ritual. Classic representations evidence the myth's antiquity, while its numerous versions pose methodological problems, addressed in this paper through the analysis of synonymies in narrative, art, and performance.
- Research Article
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