National Geographic : 1975 Dec
WATCHED OVER by good and evil gods, orderly rows of glyphs name the 20 days of the Maya "month," over and over, marching through a 260-day cycle that was essential for forecasting. To use this calendar, a priest probably counted a random pile of corn kernels while reading the days from left to right across the pages. The day reached when the grains ran out determined the prediction. For example, the glyph for Day I, or Imix-resembling a baseball fielder's glove - was always auspicious, a good time to plant maize, a portent of plenty. UNDULATING sky serpents send rain; their voice is the thunder. Two are rattlesnakes. The circles of crosshatching on the serpents' skins are the same as that in the glyph for the fifth day, Chicchan, which is therefore a proper time for rain ceremonies. MERCHANT GOD Ek-Chuah grasps a copper ax and carries his pack on a tumpline. Above his head the glyph with black background names him; its design resembles his own eye.