Tonal (mythology)

Last updated

Tonal is a concept within the study of Mesoamerican religion, myth, folklore and anthropology. It is a belief found in many indigenous Mesoamerican cultures that a person upon being born acquires a close spiritual link to an animal, a link that lasts throughout the lives of both creatures. The person shows signs of whatever the animal's situation to include scratches and bruises if the animals get in fights, or illness if the animal is ill. It is in this way similar to the concept of Totem.

Contents

Etymology

The word comes from the Nahuatl word tonalli , meaning "day" or "daysign". In the Aztec belief system the day of a person's birth calculated in the Tonalpohualli would determine the nature of the person – each day was associated with an animal which could have a strong or weak aspect. The person born on the day of for example "the dog" would then have the strong or weak aspect of the dog. In Nahuatl the word Tonalli was used to refer both to a day and to the animal related to that day. In Mayan belief the concept of an animal companion of a person was referred to as "Way". The modern Mixe people refer to it as Ts'ok (Lipp 1991). The Jakaltek Maya people of Concepcion Huista, Guatemala call it yixomal ispiẍan nax, meaning "soul bearer".

Studies

The study of tonalism was initiated by noted archaeologist, linguist and ethnologist Daniel Garrison Brinton who published a treatise called "Nagualism: A Study in Native-American Folklore and History" which chronicled historical interpretations of the word and those who practiced nagualism in Mexico in 1894. He identified the different beliefs associated with tonalism in some modern Mexican communities such as the Mixe, the Nahuas, the Zapotecs and Mixtecs.

See also

Related Research Articles

Fetishism belief in supernatural powers of objects

A fetish is an object believed to have supernatural powers, or in particular, a human-made object that has power over others. Essentially, fetishism is the emic attribution of inherent value or powers to an object.

Xolotl Aztec god

In Aztec mythology, Xolotl was a god associated with both lightning and death. He was also associated with the sunset and would guard the Sun as it traveled through the underworld every night. Dogs were associated with Xolotl. This deity and a dog were believed to lead the soul on its journey to the underworld. He was commonly depicted as a monstrous dog. Xolotl was the god of fire and lightning. He was also god of twins, monsters, misfortune, sickness, and deformities. Xolotl is the canine brother and twin of Quetzalcoatl, the pair being sons of the virgin Coatlicue. He is the dark personification of Venus, the evening star, and was associated with heavenly fire.

Huītzilōpōchtli Aztec deity

In the Aztec religion, Huitzilopochtli is a deity of war, sun, human sacrifice, and the patron of the city of Tenochtitlan. He was also the national god of the Mexicas, also known as Aztecs, of Tenochtitlan. Many in the pantheon of deities of the Aztecs were inclined to have a fondness for a particular aspect of warfare. However, Huitzilopochtli was known as the primary god of war in ancient Mexico. Since he was the patron god of the Mexica, he was credited with both the victories and defeats that the Mexica people had on the battlefield. The people had to make sacrifices to him to protect the Aztec from infinite night. He wielded Xiuhcoatl as a weapon, associating him with fire.

Nagual Shapeshifting sorcerer in Mesoamerican folk religion

In Mesoamerican folk religion, a nahual is a human being who has the power to shapeshift into an animal form. A widespread superstition holds that nahuals must make a pact with the devil as well as make him an offering.

Jaguars in Mesoamerican cultures

The representation of jaguars in Mesoamerican cultures has a long history, with iconographic examples dating back to at least the mid-Formative period of Mesoamerican chronology. The jaguar is an animal with a prominent association and appearance in the cultures and belief systems of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican societies in the New World, similar to the lion and tiger in the Old World. Quick, agile, and powerful enough to take down the largest prey in the jungle, the jaguar is one of the biggest felids in Central or North America, and one of the most efficient and aggressive predators. Endowed with a spotted coat and well adapted for the jungle, hunting either in the trees or water, making it one of the few felines tolerant of water, the jaguar was, and remains, revered among the indigenous Americans who live closely with the jaguar.

Mesoamerican languages languages indigenous to the Mesoamerican cultural area; not genetically related; includes 6 major families (Mayan, Oto-Mangue, Mixe–Zoque, Totonacan, Uto-Aztecan, Chibchan) as well as various smaller families and isolates

Mesoamerican languages are the languages indigenous to the Mesoamerican cultural area, which covers southern Mexico, all of Guatemala and Belize and parts of Honduras and El Salvador and Nicaragua. The area is characterized by extensive linguistic diversity containing several hundred different languages and seven major language families. Mesoamerica is also an area of high linguistic diffusion in that long-term interaction among speakers of different languages through several millennia has resulted in the convergence of certain linguistic traits across disparate language families. The Mesoamerican sprachbund is commonly referred to as the Mesoamerican Linguistic Area.

Daniel Garrison Brinton American archaeologist and ethnologist

Daniel Garrison Brinton was an American surgeon, historian, archaeologist and ethnologist.

Oto-Manguean languages Language family of Mexico and, previously, Central America

Oto-Manguean or Otomanguean languages are a large family comprising several subfamilies of indigenous languages of the Americas. All of the Oto-Manguean languages that are now spoken are indigenous to Mexico, but the Manguean branch of the family, which is now extinct, was spoken as far south as Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Oto-Manguean is widely viewed as a proven language family. However, this status has been recently challenged.

In folk belief, spirit is the vital principle or animating force within all living things. As far back as 1628 and 1633 respectively, both William Harvey and René Descartes speculated that somewhere within the body, in a special locality, there was a ‘vital spirit’ or 'vital force', which animated the whole bodily frame, such as the engine in a factory moves the machinery in it. Spirit has frequently been conceived of as a supernatural being, or non-physical entity; for example, a demon, ghost, fairy, or angel. In ancient Islamic terminology however, a spirit (rūḥ), applies only to pure spirits, but not to other invisible creatures, such as jinn, demons and angels.

Mazatecan languages Group of Oto-Manguean languages of southern Mexico

The Mazatecan languages are a group of closely related indigenous languages spoken by some 200,000 people in the area known as the Sierra Mazateca, which is in the northern part of the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, as well as in adjacent areas of the states of Puebla and Veracruz.

Mixe people Central American indigenous group

The Mixe are an indigenous people of Mexico inhabiting the eastern highlands of the state of Oaxaca. They speak the Mixe languages, which are classified in the Mixe–Zoque family, and are more culturally conservative than other indigenous groups of the region, maintaining their language to this day. A population figure of 90,000 speakers of Mixe were estimated by SIL international in 1993. The Mixe name for themselves is ayuujkjä'äy meaning "people who speak the mountain language" The word "Mixe" itself is probably derived from the Nahuatl word for cloud: mīxtli.

Mesoamerica Cultural area in the Americas

Mesoamerica is a historical region and cultural area in North America. It extends from approximately central Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica, and within this region pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas. In the 16th century, European diseases like smallpox and measles caused the deaths of upwards of 90% of the indigenous people. It is one of five areas in the world where ancient civilization arose independently, and the second in the Americas along with Norte Chico (Caral-Supe) in present-day Peru, in the northern coastal region.

Therianthropy Mythological ability of human beings to metamorphose into other animals

Therianthropy is the mythological ability of human beings to metamorphose into other animals by means of shapeshifting. It is possible that cave drawings found at Les Trois Frères, in France, depict ancient beliefs in the concept. The most well known form of therianthropy is found in stories concerning werewolves.

Jakaltek people

The Jakaltek people are a Mayan people of Guatemala. They have lived in the foothills of the Cuchumatán Mountains in the Department of Huehuetenango in northwestern Guatemala since pre-Columbian times, centered on the town of Jacaltenango.

Tonalli /to(ː)nalli/ plays a multiplicity of roles; acting as a day sign, body part, and a symbol of the sun's warmth. Ancient Nahuatl people believed that it was located in the hair and the fontanel area of one's skull, and that the tonalli provided the “vigor and energy for growth and development”. It often overlaps with the force of teyolía which was often considered both an animating force (soul) and the physical heart in various Mesoamerican cultures.

New Philology generally refers to a branch of Mexican ethnohistory and philology that uses colonial-era native language texts written by Indians to construct history from the indigenous point of view. The name New Philology was coined by James Lockhart to describe work that he and his doctoral students and scholarly collaborators in history, anthropology, and linguistics had pursued since the mid-1970s. Lockhart published a great many essays elaborating on the concept and content of the New Philology and Matthew Restall published a description of it in the Latin American Research Review. The techniques of the New Philology have also been applied in other disciplines such as European medieval studies.

Wayob is the plural form of way, a Maya word with a basic meaning of 'sleep(ing)', but which in Yucatec Maya is a term specifically denoting the Mesoamerican nagual, that is, a person who can transform into an animal while asleep in order to do harm, or else the resulting animal transformation itself. Already in Classic Maya belief, way animals, identifiable by a special hieroglyph, had an important role to play.

Dogs in Mesoamerican folklore and myth

Dogs have occupied a powerful place in Mesoamerican folklore and myth since at least the Classic Period right through to modern times. A common belief across the Mesoamerican region is that a dog carries the newly deceased across a body of water in the afterlife. Dogs appear in underworld scenes painted on Maya pottery dating to the Classic Period and even earlier than this, in the Preclassic, the people of Chupícuaro buried dogs with the dead. In the great Classic Period metropolis of Teotihuacan, 14 human bodies were deposited in a cave, most of them children, together with the bodies of three dogs to guide them on their path to the underworld.

Indigenous people of Oaxaca

The Indigenous people of Oaxaca are descendants of the inhabitants of what is now the state of Oaxaca, Mexico who were present before the Spanish invasion. Several cultures flourished in the ancient region of Oaxaca from as far back as 2000 BC, of whom the Zapotecs and Mixtecs were perhaps the most advanced, with complex social organization and sophisticated arts.

Demographics of Oaxaca

The state of Oaxaca, Mexico has a total population of about 3.5 million, with women outnumbering men by 150,000 and about 60% of the population under the age of 30. It is ranked tenth in population in the country. Fifty three percent of the population lives in rural areas. Most of the state’s population growth took place between 1980 and 1990. Life expectancy is 71.7 for men and 77.4 for women, just under the national average. Births far outpace deaths. In 2007, there were 122,579 birth and 19,439 deaths. Approximately 85% profess the Catholic faith.

References