The Maya and Mosquitos, on World Mosquito Day!
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Thursday August 20, 2020

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Institute of Archaeology (NICH)
Institute of Archaeology, NICH Administration Building, Culvert Road, Belmopan, Belize C.A. Belmopan, Belize
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The Maya and Mosquitos, on World Mosquito Day!

Top photo: Dazzling mosquito feeding repeatedly on possible cormorant, photograph by Justin Kerr.

Second photo: Mosquito biting a woman on her breast, drawing by Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos, taken from Late Classic plate.

Today is World Mosquito Day. While we don't celebrate their existence as blood-suckers who cause us to itch and spread malaria, we look at them in the context of ancient Maya lore.

In one chapter of the Popol Vuh, the lords of Xibalba did not want the Hero Twins to know their names. The twins sent a mosquito, Xan, to fly ahead and sting them, and as they were stung, called out to each other by name to ask what had happened.

"What is this, Chamiabac? "said Ahalcaná. "What has stung you?" Ready for the shocker? All told their names when Hunahpú puffed out a hair of his leg, which was what had stung them. It was really not a mosquito.

Top photograph by Justin Kerr. Images and text courtesy Institute of Archaeology

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