Monday, July 23, 2018

Mayans and cacao

Cacao (Theobroma cacao) played a significant role in Classic period Maya civilization (CE 250-900), both as a highly valued beverage, and as a major form of currency.

The origins of chocolate are traced back to the Maya people who were probably the first to cultivate the cacao plant. The early chocolate drink, considered a “drink of the Gods” was mixed with cinnamon and pepper, tasting bitter and strong, and was most appreciated for its invigorating and stimulating effects than for its taste.

The Mayans were next, just south of present day Mexico, to elevate chocolate to status of the Gods. They named the cacao tree Cacahuaquchtl (tree) as they were concerned no other tree was worth naming.

According to the beliefs of the Maya and Aztec, cacao was part of the creation myth and thus the start of life. Mayans believed the tree belonged to the gods and that the pods growing from the tree were an offering from the gods to man. According to Maya mythology, Hunahpú (one of the Hero Twins of the Popol Vuh) gave cacao to the Maya after humans were created from maize by the divine grandmother goddess Ixmucané.

The Mayans were the originators of a bitter brew made from cacao beans. It was a luxury drink enjoyed by kings and noblemen.
Mayans and cacao
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