Your next visit to Xcaret will be full of ancient wisdom

This is the meaning of the New Fire pre-Hispanic dance

A goal of each visit to Xcaret is to make you feel in touch with an ancient world in the midst of nature. A world full of pre-Hispanic dances telling us stories about what living in different times and cultures meant. For this reason, a visit to the Mayan Village is a must during your day at the Park. There, you will find an isle where amazing performances take place. In the middle of nature, underground rivers, and the scent of copal, you will witness the birth ritual of the God of corn.

THE CHARACTERS YOU WILL BE ABLE TO RECOGNIZE IN PRE-HISPANIC DANCES:

  • Hun Nal Ye, God of black corn that has reached the end of its cycle.
  • Ah Puch, God of death. Always accompanied by underworld characters such as the bat, crocodile, and owl.
  • Bacabes, Gods of nature. They symbolize the four winds and are the officiants of priests.
  • Priestess, carriers of the cosmic essence, in charge of opening the axis of the Maya sacred spaces.
  • Divine twins Hunahphu and Xbalamque, players of the ancestral ball game who visited Xibalbá, the Mayan underworld.
  • Halach Huinic, chief of the ancient Maya communities. Governor and leader along with the Bacabes through the ritual process.

What is the story this ritual tells?

Here is the meaning of important things you must know about this performance

First of all, this pre-Hispanic dance represents an agricultural ritual full of symbols of the Maya culture. This procession recreates an image painted in one of the oratories at Pool’e.

This dance speaks about Hun Nal Ye’s journey to Xibalbá, accompanied by Ah Puch and the characters of the Maya underworld. Chac, the god of rain, and the four Bacabes are in on the journey too. They dance to sow the seed of the New Fire and to ask the rains for new harvests.

Following, the four priestesses are in charge of preparing the sowing with a dance for the goddess of nature, Ixmucane, who will grow the seeds and make the young corn god see the light.

Afterward, Ah Puch, lights a circle of fire with his torch. This symbolizes the slashing, an agricultural system in which the earth is prepared by burning what is above it to mineralize the organic materials and favor planting and harvesting. Meanwhile, around the circle of fire, the priestesses dance to summon the rain of the god Chac. Thus, with that rain, the young corn god will be born from the shell of a turtle.

For the next scene, the Halach Huinic appears, accompanied by the divine twins of creation. The Halach Huinic dances with two torches to chase away the bad winds, representing the eternal struggle of day and night. Once that bond is strengthened, he will take his baton, closing the ceremony.

THE MEANING OF THE BEGINNING OF A NEW CYCLE FOR THE MAYA CULTURE

The last dance is a celebration to inaugurate a new agricultural cycle. In the end, the circle of energy closes saluting the four winds and Chac, while Ah Puch and other characters from the underworld return in the canoe to Xibalbá.

These pre-Hispanic dances do not correspond to a specific period or historical space in the Maya culture timeline. It tries to transmit passages and ways of life in an artistic way, with the help of studies and inquiries about the worldview and life of Maya societies. 

Keep reading more about this topic: A look at the pre-Hispanic ideology of the Mayas.

This ritual dance of the birth of the New Fire is the end of an agricultural cycle and the beginning of a new one in Mesoamerica, especially in Maya communities. Fire is the connection between humans and gods that provide life essentialities. Therefore, at homes of the Maya inhabitants of Yucatán and Quintana Roo, there is always a fire burning, putting it out is the end of a cycle and is associated with chaos or disconnection of men with deities. Finally, ritual dances are done to light it again and restore this connection in which the gods will appear renewed, bringing rain and fertility on earth.

This reopening season they find the pre-Hispanic dances in the Open Forum. Follow the blue line to point 24 on your map and enjoy this magnificent show every day at 4:30 p.m. To know more about the changes in Xcaret in the new normal, follow this link.