Sep 19, 2006

COPAN, Honduras – 
"Maybe we should just import corn from Iowa," Gustavo announces in the Copan Ruinas museum. "We can't compete with the U.S. and industrial agriculture. We should plant radishes and cauliflower or something. Sell them. Buy corn."

I shift my attention from the artifacts, the incomparable stelae, carvings and temples, some 1,500 years old. My guide talks faster than I can write, sliding from fertility toads to modern natal clinics. Eh? Cauliflower, a cash crop? What?

"It's a cultural thing," he blurs onward. "The Mayans are the people the gods made from corn. To stop planting it is to abandon their roots."

We sit, humbled before slab architecture knobbed with skull carvings.

"The ruler would perform a ritual in times of trouble, piercing his foreskin with a stingray spine," he explains. "His blood was the ultimate offering, the greatest self-sacrifice."

The queen would merely impale a rope of thorns through her tongue. Kiddie stuff.

"Copan, today, is a blend of two ancient faiths," Gustavo says.

"Catholic and corn.

"The Mayans believed in bloodletting. The missionaries told them about the sacrifice of Jesus and they totally related. He gave his blood to save our lives; yeah, that's a good man! But they related to him as a good leader, not a savior...

"Today, most families have a small altar with a cross. But they also conduct ceremonies in the field, burning corn.

"These two ancient faiths are good together."


  1. Bob's your uncle8:32 PM

    But what about MAN CORN?

  2. Do you think we could get tax breaks if we started our own cauliflower-based religion?

    (I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record but another great post).

  3. Oh, by the way, thanks for the add on your blogroll!

  4. I remember the sense of mistery that pervade me when I arrive Copan, I've had a strange impression of some ancient senses wake up in the moment that i walk around here.

  5. Man Corn, for the unitiated, was the title of a book by anthropologist Christy G. Turner II. He suggested that the Anasazi civilization collapsed because of cannibal invaders.

    These brutal warriors not only ate flesh, but ground bones into bread, then excreted the remains symbolically onto the hearth.

    The stress was too much for the gentle tribes. Minds shattered, they disappeared into the hills...

    Fact or fiction? Read the book:

    Man Corn

  6. Thanks for the props, DB. You're on the blog roll because I enjoy your writing too.

    By the way, I think a strong precedent exists for a cruciform-vegetable religion:

    "Greeks and Romans placed great importance on the healing powers of cabbage. They held that the vegetable could cure just about any illness. Roman mythology holds that cabbages sprung from the tears of Lycurgus, King of the Edonians."

    From Cabbage Lore and Trivia

  7. Alexale, I agree. The site's unusually impressive and intimate, for all its large size.

    I've not met a disappointed customer yet...

  8. Hmmm, fascinating, Amanda.

    With the presence of cauliflower, broccoli and kale-based sects, I'm left to wonder: what is the one, true, all-holy cruciform-vegtable?

    I suppose this is the type of dangerous question I probably shouldn't be asking, for fear of sparking any sectarian-based incidents here at Road Remedies. After all, I wouldn't want anyone to get hurt over their choice of cabbage.

  9. DB, I'm not sure about the veg-grail, but I'm absolutely certain radicchio is Lucifer in that equation.

    Get that maroon sludge OUT of the salad mix already. Yes, it's pretty, but doesn't belong in anyone's bowl, especially as a pasta topping.


  10. Mmmm, well, one cannot truly appreciate good without the presence of evil, and if radicchio is the Coke to cabbage's Pepsi, then so be it.

    If thou dost not stray from thy Path of The Mighty Cruciform, thou shalt verily be delivered from eternal damnation!

    Peace be with you.


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