Ix Tab, the ancient Maya suicide goddess, appears in various settings in the contemporary popular culture of Yucatán, Mexico. In a state where the suicide rate is double the Mexican national average, discourses about Ix Tab feed misconceptions about indigenous proclivities to suicide and render Maya people exotic. In an effort to unravel the origins of Ix Tab and the contemporary beliefs about indigenous suicide, we studied the ethnohistoric origins of Ix Tab in Diego de Landa's Relación de las cosas de Yucatán and reviewed iconography from art databases and more than forty-four hundred pages of published works to identify either an ancient Maya suicide deity or suicide by hanging as a motif in ancient Maya art. Our research found no iconographic evidence of a suicide deity, and we came upon only two images of humans hanging by the neck, neither representing suicide. This indicates that there was no ancient Maya suicide deity and that suicide by hanging was not a significant motif among the ancient Maya.
Research Article|January 01 2016
Unraveling Ix Tab: Revisiting the “Suicide Goddess” In Maya Archaeology
Ethnohistory (2016) 63 (1): 1-27.
Beatriz M. Reyes-Foster, Rachael Kangas; Unraveling Ix Tab: Revisiting the “Suicide Goddess” In Maya Archaeology. Ethnohistory 1 January 2016; 63 (1): 1–27. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-3325358
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