Ceremony heralds end of era in ancient Mayans’ calendar







1. Wide of audience gathered around Temple of the Giant Jaguar
2. Mid of man in Mayan dress at top of Temple of the Giant Jaguar
3. Mid of musicians playing traditional Mayan instruments
4. Various of Mayan procession to bring out “king” and “queen” of 13th Baktun ceremony
5. Mid of men in Mayan dress holding torches
6. Wide left pan of audience watching celebration
7. Mid of musician blowing traditional horn
8. SOUNDBITE: (Spanish) Maria Francisca Yax Tiu, ceremony presenter:
“(Addressing Mayan Creator of World) Show us the road of peace and harmony throughout time. Grandfather and grandmothers, receive this gift (of the celebration) from your people, for you, our guides, who guide us on our path.”
9. Mid of man in Mayan dress standing on pyramid steps, UPSOUND: woman singing
10. Mid of journalists
11. Mid of musicians playing traditional instruments
12. Wide of people standing on steps of pyramid holding torches
13. Wide of Temple of the Giant Jaguar
14. Wide of demonstrators gathered outside entrance to Tikal site wanting to be let in to perform Mayan ceremonies
15. SOUNDBITE: (Spanish) Jose Kak, Mayan protesting his exclusion from event:
“We should all have access here. We are the owners, the inheritors of these sacred temples.”
16. Wide of demonstrators
Guatemala on Thursday marked the end of a major cycle in the 5,125-year Mayan Long Count calendar with a colourful, elaborate celebration filled with dance, Mayan music and gravity-defying headdresses.
The ceremony at the Tikal archaeological site, near the northern border, started just after 2100 local time (0300 GMT), with man dressed like a Mayan priest blowing a horn in the Temple of Giant Jaguar, the most famous of all Tikal’s temples.
Wearing costumes inspired by ancient Mayan ceremonial dress, performers carried a “king” and “queen” on litters around the base of the pyramid as musicians played traditional instruments designed to make sounds that imitate the natural world – a jaguar hissing or a bird singing.
“Show us the road of peace and harmony throughout time,” called out the event’s presenter, Maria Francisca Yax Tiu, as she stood flanked by other young performers on the pyramid’s steps.
The show was broadcast live by the government and staged with the sort of pageantry usually reserved for openings of major sporting events.
Access to the event was limited amid tight security owing to the attendance of President Otto Perez, a restriction that infuriated members of indigenous rights groups who came to the site to make offerings but were not allowed to enter.
A group of several dozen protesters gathered outside the entrance to protest their exclusion on the sacred day.
“We should all have access here,” protester Jose Kak said. “We are the owners, the inheritors of these sacred temples.”
The celebration came on the eve of 21 December, the date characterised in popular culture as the “Mayan Apocalypse”, despite what archaeologists say is scant evidence that the Mayans believed the world would end with the close of the era, known as the 13th Baktun.
While the end of the Mayan calendar cycle prompted a wave of doomsday speculation across the globe, few in the Mayan heartland believe the world will end.
The Mayans measured time in 394-year periods known as baktuns.
The 13th baktun ends around 21 December and 13 is considered a sacred number for the Mayans.
But archaeologists have uncovered Mayan glyphs that refer to dates far, far in the future, long beyond 21 December.

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