Free «The Mayan Culture» Essay

The Mayan Culture

The Maya civilization has been considered to be one of the grandest in world history and its collapse has overtime been masked with mystery (Coe, 152-154). The ancient Maya had a vast territory which extended from Central to South America circa 2000 BC to 1500 AD. The Mayan culture indeed extended to parts of the Americas presently named: Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Belize. It was in the classical period that the Mayan culture had the most advancement. During this period, the Maya civilization developed a complex social and political order, built temples, pyramids and also gave rise to cities. As a matter of fact, in Tikal, there are many remnants which clearly disclose the culture of this ancient Maya civilization.

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In true, all cultures are divided into various components. These components of culture may further be divided into various categories: ideological, sociological, and sentimental or attitudinal. The Mayan and the American cultures are no different. To understand these better it is in order to consider each category separately.

The ideological category of culture is composed of beliefs. All human beliefs are in particular dependent upon articulate speech for their origin and also for their perpetuation. Both the American culture and the Mayan culture portray this sector of culture. They both have a set of beliefs that came into existence thanks to contributions by ancestors in these cultures. For instance the Maya had very strict set of beliefs that led to the development of certain religious rituals such as worship of the gods and offering of sacrifices when faced with difficulties such as drought or floods. The Americans on the other hand have a distinct set of beliefs that is majorly a combination of different cultures as a result of immigration and colonization. The Americans have a well established set of beliefs that vary from the Maya. In religion for example, the Maya have religious beliefs that is followed by all whereas Americans have several religious beliefs with Christianity having the most followers. Moreover, the Maya have very unacceptable set of beliefs such as offering human sacrifices to appease the gods (Saturno, Stuart & Beltran, 1281-1283). These rituals are considered inhuman in the contemporary world whereas in the medieval times the practice of offering human sacrifices was rampant in many cultures. The American culture is free from such religious practices.

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The sociological component is composed of customs, institutions, rules and patterns of interpersonal behavior. This component is again dependent upon articulate speech. It is evident that the Maya had a strict system of rules that were to be followed by all its citizenry. For instance it was against the Mayan culture to marry a parallel cousin. This was considered to be incestuous and therefore was also considered criminal. In the American culture this is also evident in that there are strict rules which govern daily life especially on issues such as marriage. In the American culture it is incestuous to marry a cousin even if it is a cross-cousin which is permissible in the Mayan culture. These set of rules condition humans to behave in such a distinct way from animals. In true, the customs developed may infringe o the freedom of the people in the different society. The Mayan culture had too many restrictions as to how the individuals would behave within the society. There was no freedom. There was a defined manner of communication between elders and the youth and between male and female. The American culture on the hand highly considers freedom of its citizen as (Naylor, 67-69) points out.

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Another interesting sociological aspect that is observed is that of kinship system. In the Mayan culture the kinship system was more prevalent. The main purpose of the kinship system was to relate persons to one another, to organize the persons into a group and to direct, regulate, and control their behavior towards one another in various situations. The American culture can be said to be different from that of the Maya. According to (White, 132), the American culture is a form of modern kinship system, described as monogamian family. The Mayan culture is described as clan organization. The difference in these two cultures is that the Mayan culture recognizes the clan as the basic unit of organization and the American culture recognizes the nuclear family as the basic entity in social organization.

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With regard to sentiments or attitudes as components of culture we find the same situation. This is that the feelings or attitudes that constitute actions that are regarded as taboos require articulation and symbolizing for their existence. In essence, the American and the Mayan culture are formed around basic sentiments and attitudes that in a way link the sociological and the ideological components of these cultures. For instance the Mayan culture is well known for the advancements of a very unique writing style that expressed their attitudes and beliefs using discreet symbol known as glyphs (Sharer & Traxler, 125). The American culture is well known for its unique style of communication and expression of ideas having led to the involvement of various styles of writing that are employed in the contemporary world.

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