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The Mayan story of creation was known as Popol Vuh, which said the gods had created humans out of maize and water, which became flesh and blood. Their priests taught that the gods were responsible for the continuation of the world and the success of the maize crop; and they needed to be appeased by the shedding of human blood. It was believed that this would bring water to the crops so that the society could survive. It was necessary that copious amounts of blood be shed to appease the gods. Originally, the Maya lacerated the bodies of war captives or cut off the tips of their fingers so that blood would flow freely. At other times, they decapitated victims to insure a copious flow of blood. This apparently was not sufficient to appease the gods; so Maya women often slit their tongues to cause blood to flow. On ceremonial occasions, Maya men slit their penises and placed strips of bark in the would to make blood flow more freely. So important was blood letting to their society that a new king was expected to shed his own blood in a sacrifice to the gods before he could rule effectively.
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