The Mayan Civilization located in the Latin American region of Mexico, Peru and Guatemala, that flourished on the rivers Usumacinta and Urubamba, are lined with ruins of ancient towns. One of the the most prominent of course is Yaxachilan (यक्षशिला). The etymology of Yaxchilan, Urubamba and Usumacinta and their link to Sanskrit were discussed in previous posts.

Some of the towns located on the Urubamba, that are most visited today by tourists and researchers, are the towns of Calca, Pisaca, Lamay and Ollantaytambo.

Calca is a cognate of the Sanskrit name Kalka, which means ‘pertaining to Kaal’ (काल) i.e. ‘pertaining to time’. Kalika (कलिका) means ‘division of time’. In the Vedic tradition Kali (कलि) is the Goddess of Time. And as a Goddess of Time she is both Preserver and Destroyer. Goddesss Kali wears a garland of skulls and a girdle of human hands.

Vedic Goddess Kali
wears a girdle of human hands
and a necklace of skulls.
The tongue

 sticks out partially.

In the ancient Aztec/Mayan lore of South America, Goddess Kaali emerges as Godess Coatlicue. She wears a girdle of snakes and a necklace made of human hearts, hands, and skulls.

Goddess Coalticue
Notice the two pairs of hands

The word Coatlicue is Nahuatl ( a Meso-American language that was spoken in Central Mexico) for ‘the one with the skirt of serpents’The Nahuatl word for serpents is ‘Coatl’. In Sanskrit  one of the many words for ‘snakes’ is ‘kakola’ (काकोल) and comes close to the Nahuatl ‘Coatl’. The Sanskrit word for ‘skirt’ or really a ‘girdle’ is ‘kandal’ (कन्दल).

The region of Calca in Peru has the ruins of temples dedicated to Coatlicue (and also Viracocha- another important deity)
 just as the town of Kalka in India has ancient Kaali Temples. In fact the town of Kalka is named after Goddess Kaali.

The many armed Goddess Kaali
Kaali Temple, Kalka, India

Suggested Links:

The Return to Coatlicue: Goddesses and Warladies in Mexican Folklore


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