Role of Women in Society
Traditionally, the role of men was to hunt or work in the fields. Mayan men were expert farmers. Corn was the staple food. Mayas were the first civilization to cultivate cacao plant and used to make chocolate drink from cacao beans. Agriculture was carried on permanent raised fields and forest gardens. Other methods included terracing, wild harvesting, slash and burn.
Women were an important part of the Mayan society and were respected by the male members of society. Mayan women took care of the household chores. The most important task for a married woman was to give birth and raise children.
Women weaved cloth and fabric. The rich women used dye to color their cloth. Mayan women were even known to have made pottery. Women groomed their daughters for their future lives by teaching them what they had learnt.
Women wore a blouse known as huipil. The neck of the blouse was embroidered with designs. Women also wore a skirt which reached to the ankles. A belt like thing called faja was worn at the waist to hole the blouse and the skirt together. During winter they wore a rectangular cloth around their neck as a shawl. The Mayan women wore a lot of jewelery. Pendants were commonly worn. Mayan men wrote cotton breach cloth that was wrapped around the waist and a sleeveless shirt. At times, they wore dyed clothes.
Rituals were an integral part of the Mayan culture. Bloodletting by humans was commonly practiced to appease the Maize God. Human and child sacrifice was common. In some ceremonies victim's heart was burned. During the sacrifice ceremony the victim was painted with blue dye. Animals and objects were also sacrificed. The sacrifice victims were kept in the Well of Sacrifice as an offering to the rain god.
Purification was one of the rituals practiced by the Mayans and it included fasting, bathing, sexual abstinence and confession. One of the Mayan rituals was the grooming of young boys and girls for marriage. Other rituals performed included healing rituals, rituals for good rains, war rituals and kingship rituals. Death rituals formed a significant part of the Mayan religion. Other rituals performed were dancing, theatrical performances, singing, ball games, and offering prayer to gods.
Astronomy and calendar making were a part of the Mayan tradition. Time was calculated by observing the sky. Mayans observed the sky to predict events like harvest season, famines and floods. They were probably the first civilization to know about the Orion Nebula. Astronomers had the ability to predict future events. They would record the movements in the sky with naked eyes in codexes.
Dresden codex has the largest collection of astronomical observations and calculations. The moon, sun, Venus and certain stars were given importance. Significance was given on Zenial passage. Mayans developed three dating systems-the Long Count, Tzolki'in and Haab. Year Bearers calendar had characteristics- Ik, Eb', Kaban and Manik.