Research and story by Clarence Simonsen
All rights reserved
The original Maya, or Mayance, are mainly distinguished by their languages, some 28 in total which are not dialects, but each with a structured grammar of their own. They all originated from a single spoken tongue in Western Guatemala in the third millennium B.C. This collection of groups with a different language, custom, and historical background still shared many traits that allowed them to be classified as a single Maya cultural family. During the pre-Hispanic period, the Maya inhabited a vast area which covered Central and Southern Mexico and Central America, which was known as a larger group called Mesoamerica. They built one of the most original and grand civilizations ever known until the arrival of the Spanish who destroyed the Mesoamerican culture, murdered and raped the Maya, then imprisoned them in their own territory. Try as they did, the invading Spanish could never destroy the Maya culture. They took away their freedom, imposed a Roman Catholic god and religion, but somehow the original religious beliefs still remain intact. So, the Maya continue to speak their own language, worship their own gods, live on their own land, and in their own special way, have preserved their ancient ancestral heritage. This includes the Moon Goddess, ‘Ixchel’, who is still powerful, believed, and worshiped today in rural parts of Mexico.
The Maya system of writing numbers was the most sophisticated in all the Western World, and originated around 300 B.C. This mathematical system allowed the Maya to very accurately record the cycles of the heavenly bodies, most importantly the Sun and the Moon. Apart from their advanced numbers system they created a writing system, or stylized form of signs which together formed a sentence and then more sentences formed a text. The text was painted on log strips of beaten tree bark covered with a thin layer of stucco, then folded like a large book. These texts were called Codices, and they recorded all the scientific knowledge, myths, history, military and police action, plus the special rites conducted by their leaders. Today only three original Codices survived the destruction and burning by the invading Spanish.
Today the Maya uses of stone, stucco, and clay sculptures have survived, replacing some of the lost history in the destroyed Codices. The same cannot be said for the Maya pictorial mural art, which covered both the inside and outside of the buildings, most of this bright colored art has been lost.
All Maya cultural creations were based on their religious concept of the world, and the sacred forces or gods that brought rain, wind, disease and even death. These gods were portrayed in animal form, fantastic beings, and a mixture of animal, human shapes, which had talons, fangs and leaves sprouting from their forehead. The Maya believed they must worship and provide food for the gods to continue to keep the universe alive. Their religious beliefs and complex set of rites became the Maya way of life which revolved around everything in their life. The central aspect of this ritual world was the offering of one’s own blood.
The Maya ball game was also played as a rite, imitating the struggle between the opposing gods and movement of the stars. Many times the game symbolized the Sun’s fight against the Moon, or the underworld “Death, Darkness and Evil” against the gods of the heaven “Sun and Moon.” The Moon also had a special meaning connected with the image of the Rabbit seen in the full Moon phases. The rabbit was born by the human image “Goddess of the Moon” Ixchel, also still connected today with Maya childbirth and medicine.
Clarence Simonsen’s replica of Maya art mural painting of human form Maya Goddess of Moon “Ixchel” giving birth to rabbit [image seen in the Moon], on right is Maya stone carving of Moon – rabbit, used in Maya rituals. Above are the correct face markings of Ixchel, possibly painted in ritual blood. Today we can stand on Earth and gaze up at the same dark image of the rabbit in the Moon, just like the ancient Maya and Aztec did.
As worldwide mankind developed, more and more cultures became obsessed with the Moon, and the markings that appear to show the outline of a large rabbit. Today this story exists in many cultures, East Asian, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean folklore. The Chinese ancient legend also introduced a beautiful Chinese girl named Chang-O who was banished to live on the Moon over 4,000 years ago. Her companion is a large Chinese rabbit which is always seen standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree. The German culture joined this folklore legend in 1899 with the operetta “Frau Luna” which told of a trip to the Moon by a group of Berliners traveling in a hot air balloon, where they meet “Frau Luna”, the Lady in the Moon. This was followed in 1929 with the historical space movie “Women in the Moon.” The German arts, music and film, would capture the imagination of all Germans, provided money to build the first German operational space rocket, and have a major impact on one young Wernher von Braun.
During the early construction and testing of the German A/4, rockets at Peenemunde, Germany, 13 June 1942 to 17 August 1943, 38 rocket tail art images were painted, and six contained images of Frau Luna and the Moon. Rocket V21 was launched on 22 June 1943 and this tail art carried an image of a rabbit, possibly connected to the Chinese or Maya folklore.
National Archives and Records Administration – public domain.
Like the destroyed Maya art of their past civilization, the WWII German rocket art has been lost and misplaced over the past 73 years. This is my attempt to tell the history of the first space age tail art using the 42 known images that survive today on WWII photo images or black and white German launch film.
Just before the first landing of the American Apollo 11 crew on the moon, Houston sent a message to instruct them to keep a watch for a beautiful Chinese girl and her companion a large Chinese rabbit. Astronaut Michael Collins replied – “We’ll keep a close eye for the bunny girl.” Unknown to the Apollo 11 crew, it is possible they also carried the image of German “Frau im Mond” with them to the lunar surface.
Apollo 16 would in fact carry the image of one American astronaut meeting a nude and very sexy Frau Luna on the Moon.