Surviving time in the thought of today's Maya
A long-term study of the material preserved concerning the structure, character and modes of organization of the Maya shows that for them the concept of time represents one of the main bases for the perception of the world and universe as well as for grasping the existence of individual as such. The intensity with which this ancient civilization focussed on the concept of time is given by the fact that time for them was not only quantitative, but also a qualitative dimension influencing the actions of each individual. This can be demonstrated by their calendar which consists of three mutually related temporal cycles of differing lengths and sequences that proceed as three circles of different size constantly rotating next to each other and together. This precisely worked out mechanism enabled its users to express many-layered parallel perceptions of time and space. The basic unit of measurement of the whole mechanism is not a year but a day. This allows the use of the calendar in basically every fundamental sphere of life of members of these communities. Although in the course of the colonialism and afterwards basically all pre-Columbian Mayan traditions underwent differing degrees of assimilation or transformation, the exceptional place of the meaning of time and temporality in the value system of the Maya allowed the preservation of the original calendar, or at least its parts, up to today. For us these pieces of knowledge are first of all an important source of information for the understanding of the most basic life goal of all Maya, which was and is attaining harmony with reality which they perceived and experienced.
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