back in 2011 about the trade of southwestern turquoise for Maya chocolate. Besides the macaw pens, Paquime also has two central American-style ball courts (above).
So how did the southwestern macaw thing get started? Most likely, around the year 1100 some pilgrim from Mimbres walked to the Maya heartland to be initiated into their esoteric lore. He or she then walked back to Mimbres, bringing along new stories of the hero twins, new knowledge, and a scarlet macaw in a cage. Other pilgrims followed, perhaps dozens, perhaps hundreds. In Mimbres, the people abandoned the underground shrines known as Great Kivas where they had worshiped and moved their rituals to new outdoor plazas. (To archaeologists, a change in the buildings used for worship is the most dramatic evidence of religious or ideological change.) Macaw feathers became the symbols of initiates into a new cult of the hero twins and their avatars, the sun and the moon. Those pioneering pilgrims were remembered, and in a garbled way their stories still survive – several Indian tribes and clans have tales of people who traveled far to the south, to the land of the sun, and returned with new rituals and lore.
The bird bones, the pottery, the lore – it all fits together in an amazing way.
Patricia Gilman, Marc Thompson, and Kristina Wyckoff, Ritual Change and the Distant: Mesoamerican Iconography, Scarlet Macaws, and Great Kivas in the Mimbres Region of Southwestern New Mexico. American Antiquity 79(1) 2014.