Smilax

Smilax

An ethnobotanical with interesting properties Smilax is a crucial ingredient in Mayan ethnobotanical recipes, both from Guatemala and Mexico. However, it is notable that, in general, Mayanists know very little about this seemingly bizarre plant. I have studied plants of the Maya since the 1970s, and I must admit I never heard of this plant until four years ago. And […]

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Eating an Inflorescence

Flowers in the Mayan Diet

Flowers in the Mayan Diet While in a hotel in Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, we were photographing a beautiful peace lily flower, of the Spathiphyllum genus. Our Q’eqchi’ translator immediately told us that this flower is edible. Our photo assistant also said that his family incorporated these flowers in their meals. He is from the Guatemala-Mexico border area in the […]

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Flowers from the Árbol del Hermano Pedro

This species has been appreciated in Mesoamerica since pre-Hispanic times for its unique beauty and medicinal properties. Tea from the dried flowers are attributed various medicinal properties, mainly as a tranquilizer, analgesic and to control high blood pressure and heart disease. Scientists are investigating its antidepressant effect.

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Edible Flowers in the Mayan Diet

The focus this month is on an edible flower from the tree referred to as muc in the Q’eqchi’ language; orejuela in local Spanish of Guatemala. The scientific name is Cymbopetalum penduliflorum (Donal) Bail. Family: Annonaceae. Flowers played a major role in Mayan culture, as sacred flowers, as perfume, as seasoning, as food and as medicine. The flower from the […]

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Finding Virola guatemalensis

The search is on for ancient flavorings After four years of searching, we still have not been able to find seven of the flavors used by the Maya 1,000 years ago. For example, where is an actual orejuela tree (muc in K’ekchi Mayan)? Two years ago its leaves were common in the markets of Cobán, Alta Verapaz. Last month not […]

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Flowering of the National Tree

The ceiba tree is the national tree of Guatemala and was the sacred World Tree of the Mayan civilization. There are two species of ceiba tree in Guatemala; Ceiba pentandra is the national tree. The primary feature of the ceiba tree that the Maya noticed and copied was the conical spines. It is known by most Mayanists that the decorative […]

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Annona

A great way to improve your diet and health Many species of the family Annonaceae (custard-apple family), for example the soursop, cherimoya and sugar apple seeds, constitute significant sources of lipids, proteins and carbohydrates and can therefore be used in food and feed, and offer relevant antioxidant activity of phenolic compounds. The oil in the seeds are a good source […]

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Dragon Fruit, the Nighttime Fragrance

By Dr. Nicholas M. Hellmuth

Pitayas are one of the climbing cactaceas, named after its habit to use trees as a physical support. Pitaya (pitahaya) is a night-blooming epiphytic cactus, which is common throughout Guatemala and surrounding countries. Many hotels in La Antigua Guatemala and around Lake Atitlán, El Remate and Tikal have pitaya and/or their relatives blooming over the summer. For example, hundreds of […]

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La casa De Cervantes

by Julie Potvin, Asesora en Comercializacíon/Conseillere en Commercialisation CECI

Written by. Julie Potvin An oasis of literature in Guatemala City’s Historical Center Just behind the Palacio del Gobierno, in Guatemala City’s zone 1, on 5a calle at the corner of 5a avenida, art meets literature under the roof of a cultural center that promotes fair trade, as well as a more inclusive and sustainable economy for Guatemalan society. Since […]

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Leaf-cutting Ants Like Flowers

While visiting the Petén, Alta Verapaz or the costa sur, you’ll most likely see leaf-cutting ant trails, which look like miniature highways running through a lawn. One aspect about leaf-cutting ants that is seldom written about is their propensity to carry flowers (rather than leaves). In the last three years I have found ants harvesting and carrying flowers about 90 […]

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Chirimoya Edible Fruits

he Mayan name is tsalmuy, and the Nahual name is poshte.

Edible Fruits of the Mayan Diet As people around the world expand their health consciousness, they are eager to learn more about the vast array of fruits and vegetables available to them. And, especially for local people, living in rural areas with limited incomes, it is possible to eat healthy foods, in particular fruits and vegetables. One aspect of FLAAR’s […]

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Crocodiles, caimans and alligators in Mayan art & mythology of Guatemala

Crocodiles (photos by Nicholas Hellmuth)

There are two species of crocodiles and one species of alligator in the Mayan regions of Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and Mexico. Caiman crocodilus is a caiman, but considered an alligator (not a crocodile) despite its name “crocodilus.” The pattern of scales on this creature is very distinctive: no spikes or sharp spines but lots of raised bumps in a regular […]

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The Nance Tree

Seven Macaw is the False Sun deity, featured in the Mayan myth of the Popol Vuh. His name in the K’iche’ Mayan language of Guatemala is Vukub-Cakix. The perch and favorite food of Seven Macaw is specifically identified as a nance tree in most translations of the Popol Vuh. “This is the great tree of Seven Macaw, a nance, and […]

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Monstera deliciosa

Split-leaf philodendron is a common beauty in Guatemala Monstera deliciosa is a common houseplant and a common gar-den plant throughout Guatemala. Most of my articles in the REVUE magazine have been about sacred plants and flowers that appear in Mayan myths and in ancient art of Guatemala. But this month I am writing about a plant that is not pictured […]

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Sacred turtles in Mayan art and iconography

A new FLAAR Report* now lists all of the animals that were sacred or otherwise considered as special by the Classic Maya. There are animals that are related to the sky (constellations, stars, planets), the forests and those that are associated with rivers, lakes, swamps and the oceans. These waters are conflated by the cosmology of the Preclassic and Classic […]

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The Sacred Red Bean

But not from a vine, from a tree — the Palo de Pito The palo de pito tree is commonly found throughout the Highlands of Guatemala. It produces a bright red bean, which is used for divination by Maya shamans. The book of Popol Vuh is very clear about the red beans from this tree being used by the gods […]

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The Ancient Maya And The White-tailed Deer

Mayan deer whistle (courtesy of Museo de Arte Precolombino y Vidrio Moderno, Casa Santo Domingo)

Deer are among the 10 most commonly depicted animals on Mayan vases, plates and bowls of the Late Classic period. Although two species of deer inhabit the Mayan heartland, the white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus, is the one usually depicted in Mayan art. For the Classic Maya, the deer was in some ways as important as the jaguar, monkey and snakes. […]

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Flowers in Mayan Art

Flowers are part of Mayan decoration, outfits and rituals. Kings wear flowers in the headdress. In addition to being purely decorative, flowers have deep meaning in Mayan religion and folklore. Especially between the 3rd and 9th century AD, perhaps a dozen different flower species are depicted in Classic Mayan murals and in art on funerary ceramics. For many years I […]

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Macaws and Parrots in 3rd-9th Century Mayan Art

Military macaw (Ara militaris), Macaw Mountain Bird Park & Nature Reserve, Copán, Honduras (Nicholas Hellmuth)

by Dr. Nicholas M. Hellmuth The most remarkable deity in the ancient Mayan myth of the Popol Vuh is “Seven Macaw.” In reality this preening bird-creature is pictured in Classic Mayan art as a snake-eating raptor. So in most renditions in murals and pottery, Seven Macaw is a hawk-like composite creature without very many features of a macaw (other than […]

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Ceiba pentandra

Sacred tree for Classic Maya, national tree for Guatemala today by Dr. Nicholas M. Hellmuth Look at the sacred ceiba tree and you may notice that its spines resemble the round bumps that the Maya incorporated on their incense burners, cache vessels and urns. Notice the pattern of conical, spine-like protuberances on these thousand-year-old ceramic vessels. You get the same […]

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