Exclusive first look. Mayan Calendar features on the Mint of Poland’s latest high relief coin

It seems that after a long period of under-representation in numismatics, even given the huge popularity of ancient mythology recently, the Mesoamerican civilisations are finally seeing some cool coin designs highlighting elements of their art and their legends. The best of the new breed in our opinion, was the recent Numiscollect coin depicting the Aztec Calendar Stone. A three-ounce silver piece produced by CIT and struck by BH Mayer, it has impeccable credentials and is a fine release.

Now, that other producer of impressive high-relief designs, the Mint of Poland, is adding their own coin to the mix. Similar in concept, this one features the Mayan Calendar. A bit lighter at two ounces in weight, it doesn’t seem to have effected the level of high-relief on the reverse face, if the renders are any indication (Mint of Poland renders are usually great indicators of the finished article). Indeed, they look very impressive, with tight definition and fine detail across the face. Devoid of gilding, colour or inserts, the antique-finish is left unencumbered with distration and we reckon this one will be a fine piece in hand.

The obverse is a tweaked version of one commonly used by the mint. In this case the border carries over part of the reverse design, although not the high-relief. We’re pleased to see that all of the coin inscriptions are restricted to this face, keeping the reverse free of them. As we said, we only have renders at present, but we should see some actual images fairly soon, along with some pictures of the packaging. A promising first look. Distributed by Pela-Coins, we’d expect it to start shipping later this year, when we will take another look.

MAYAN CALENDAR

The Maya calendar isn’t unique. It’s based on one used in several pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilisations, with early roots going back to at least the 5th century BCE. It has much in common with earlier civilisations like the Zapotec and Olmec, and later ones like the Mixtec and the Aztec. The calendar consists of multiple cycles of differing lengths which are used simultaneously.

THE HAAB: This is a 365-day solar calendar divided into 19 months. One of the 19 is just 5 days long, with the other 18 stretching to 20 days each. On the coin, the representative glyphs can be seen in the inner ring surrounding the portrait. Each represents a monthly personality.

THE TZOLKIN: Meaning ‘the distribution of the days’, the Tzolkin is a 260-day calendar comprised of twenty, 13-day periods. Its primary function was to set the time of religious and ceremonial events. The next ring out as depicted on the coin has them represented by alternating symbols of triangles and ‘castles’.

THE LONG COUNT: Also called the Universal Cycle, each one is a staggering 2.88 million days in length. This ties in with the destruction myth that entered popular culture in 2012, as each cycle is said to end with the destruction and recreation of the universe. It is currently accepted that this calendar began on August 11, 3114 BCE in the Gregorian calendar.

The result of combining the three is a Calendar Round. Each round has 18,980 unique date combinations and they are used to define the days in a 52-year cycle. This is a simplified description of this overly complicated system for recording the date, and it’s of no surprise that its use didn’t spread further, although there are still communities in the region that use it. The good news is that we’ll have to wait almost 8,000 years for the next round of crap Hollywood doomsday movies to be released…

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SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $5 New Zealand (Niue)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
DIMENSIONS 45.0 mm
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS High-relief
MINTAGE 500
BOX / COA Yes / Yes
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