By Dennis Tedlock

Mayan literature is one of the oldest on this planet, spanning an stunning millennia from deep pre-Columbian antiquity to the current day. the following, for the 1st time, is an absolutely illustrated survey, from the earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions to the works of later writers utilizing the Roman alphabet. Dennis Tedlock—ethnographer, linguist, poet, and award-winning author—draws on many years of residing and dealing one of the Maya to gather this groundbreaking publication, that is the 1st to regard old Mayan texts as literature. Tedlock considers the texts chronologically. He establishes that ladies have been one of the old writers and demanding situations the concept Mayan rulers claimed the prestige of gods. 2000 Years of Mayan Literature expands our figuring out and appreciation not just of Mayan literature yet of indigenous American literature in its entirety.

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As for writing on hide, cloth, or paper, those materials have long since disintegrated. The ongoing story of the discovery of fragments of early Mayan writing is itself composed of disconnected fragments, of chance encounters with texts that were not necessarily what an archaeologist was looking for. And even when an early text does come to light, the attempt to read it produces only fragmentary results. Some of the signs in such texts are recognizable as ancestral versions of signs that appear in the more readable texts of later times, but many others resist interpretation.

At one level, the characters can be read simply as a text; at another level, they occupy places in a larger graphic composition that illustrates or extends their meaning. The characters on the ear ornament form a cosmic diagram, one whose meaning would be clearer if we could read all the signs that compose it. EARLY LONG- COUNT DATES Long-count dates record the total number of days that have elapsed since the hypothetical end of an era that preceded the present one (see the previous chapter). The earliest-known long-count dates that correspond to historical events are five-place numbers with 7 in the highest position.

On the present occasion, according to the next two characters, the owl is umuut Uh Ixik, “the herald of Moon Woman,” which is to say the corresponding stars are rising above the horizon just ahead of the moon. What this Fig. 1. Passage from a lunar almanac in the Dresden Codex, with event portends is given by the eight characters in two double columns. Within a pair of colcharacter that comes in fourth umns, the reading order goes from left to right and top to bottom. ” The fourth and final character describes the portent: ox okwa, in which ox is literally “three” but serves as a figure of speech for “several,” and okwa is a term for wedding feasts.

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