Sacrifice and Bloodletting

The ancient Maya embraced the practice of bloodletting. The exhibition explores this mysterious and elaborate ritual in which members of the elite would pierce their own skin, splatter the blood on paper, then burn the paper during rituals.

They believed that the practice would help them contact gods and ancestors. Noble blood was considered especially potent, and rulers used bloodletting to declare their privileged connection to the sacred world.

The ceremonial slaughter of animals was a common means of appeasing the gods, or seeking their favour. For the most important events and divinations, humans were sacrificed.