(9) How are Mayan math and Mayan weaving related?
Maguey bags are woven by Mayans. The process of weaving the bags relies on the utilization of the vigesimal system which provides continuity as the elders orally teach new generations how to weave the bags. Long cactus leaves are cut from the maguey plant. The durable fibers are separated with a cloth covered machete and set aside to dry. Once dry, spun, and twisted, the fibers are woven using a single hand held device that looks much like a needle. The base-20 system is used for counting stitches from the bottom of the bag upward. The Mayans did not consider this weaving to be a lesson in mathematics as the mathematics is embedded in the process. The base-20 system underlying the weaving is conceptualized as the “whole person” including 10 fingers and 10 toes. In addition to being a basis for weaving, the base-20 was also utilized for organizing the planting of cornfields (often 20x20), and studying astronomy. The persistence in weaving of maguey bags through multiple periods of colonization has been an important part of resisting assimilation and loss of Mayan traditions.