Libraries and native Mesoamerican books were burned and destroyed in 1500-1700 AD by Spanish conquistadors and priests. A few Codices were hidden, and later found. Surviving the Spanish conquest were ancient stone monuments with hieroglyphic writings, as well as stone temples and pyramids.
Today’s Maya refer to original tribes and chiefs as roots and branches of a tree. Their first ancestors emerged from the underworld to earth through the roots of a giant ceiba world tree. After death the spirit ascends through the branches of the world tree into a heavenly paradise. 1) Twelve Roots = ancestral roots 2) Tree Trunk =Maya World Ages in jagged trunk line 3) Branches rise to a heavenly realm (VGN 2015: 158) (1966 Photo by C. Anderson and VGN).
Maya Tzotzil Tree – The vision of the world: North = Heaven-Home of the Gods. Earth = Place of the living. South = Roots – Underworld place of the dead (Low, Lee, Martinez 1982). Cutting down a Tree is a metaphor for death in ancient Mesoamerican tradition.
Tree of Life monument was designed & created with the Babylonian Cubit “Golden Mandala” from the God’s foot. The Maya creation story recorded in The Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel states, “The our Lord, God the Father measured his footstep. . . .the day, as it was called, was created, heaven and earth were created, the stairway of water, the earth, rocks and trees; the things of the sea and the things of the land were created.” (Roys 1967: 116-117, Notes 10 & 11).
Maya World Ages recorded on Izapa Stela 5 (from bottom to top): Creation (Movement), Jaguar, Wind, Rain, Water (VGN 2015:165).
RTI digital photo of Izapa Stela 5 “Tree of Life” stone. Izapa, Mexico 2012 by Dr. Jason Jones (University of Warwick, England). This digital photo confirms original NWAF photos of 1965, 1966, 1973 (VGN).
Izapa Stela 5 Tree has 12 Roots, a trunk with jogs and cuts and shapes that measure the Maya World Ages. The top has eight branches. Left is the Goddess and right the God of the Tree. The Rain cycle begins on the right (east) showing rain falling into the rivers and ocean, then evaporation glyphs on the left (west) bring moisture back to the clouds at the top. The Rain Cycle symbolizes the Human Life Cycle. The Ancestral Family is seated at the base.