Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 January 2018
In this article, we consider how the Postclassic Kowoj Maya of the central Peten lakes region of El Petén, Guatemala utilized mana in conjunction with their ritual objects and spolia to mediate between the natural and supernatural worlds. In many cultures worldwide and throughout time, mana (magical or spiritual powers that provide people and objects with a living force) transforms the ordinary into the spiritually powerful. The Kowojs imbued incense burners and buildings with mana, thus facilitating a connection with their ancestors. We examine the manufacturing recipe of a group of incense burners and the civic-ceremonial buildings at Zacpeten to argue that the Kowoj used these objects to mediate among the living, the dead, and the supernatural realms. Ultimately, by empowering these objects with mana, the Kowoj constructed a universe where they regularly communicated with their ancestors and built structures that ensouled their historical consciousness.