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Blood ritual for gods, not medicine

July 03, 2006

Re: "Esoterica Medica" [June 26]: The caption under the lintel from Yaxchilan gives one the erroneous impression that what is depicted is a medical bloodletting.

The bas-relief depicts a religious rite. The Maya ruler, Shield Jaguar, holds a giant torch over his kneeling wife, Lady Xok, who pulls a thorn-lined rope through her tongue. The resulting blood is a gift to the gods.

The glyphs above and to the left of the figures tell the story and date this event as Oct. 28, 709.

MASHA SCHWEITZER

Los Angeles

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