By Dennis Tedlock
Mayan literature is likely one of the oldest on the earth, spanning an surprising 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 a long time of dwelling and dealing one of the Maya to collect this groundbreaking booklet, that's the 1st to regard historic Mayan texts as literature. Tedlock considers the texts chronologically. He establishes that ladies have been one of the historic writers and demanding situations the concept that Mayan rulers claimed the prestige of gods. 2000 Years of Mayan Literature expands our realizing and appreciation not just of Mayan literature yet of indigenous American literature in its entirety.
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Extra info for 2000 Years of Mayan Literature
The painter of the present vessel may have considered the newness of the child and the cacao trees when choosing the subject matter for the picture. The seven gods, though they are meeting in the dark, will soon release light into the sky of a renewed world. The three levels on which they sit represent three levels of the cosmos. On the upper border of the highest level, running just below the rim text, is a band decorated with repeated motifs that identify it as the vault of the sky, and suspended from this band is a crocodilian dragon (see above) that inhabits a river that is 36 T H E S K I L L E D O B S E RV E R F R O M M A X A M visible in the night sky as part of the Milky Way.
Here are the bundles of Jaguar Night and the god on the throne, with transcriptions of the signs written on them. The label on the bundle at left is preﬁxed with the bar-anddot sign for the number 9, b’olon, which (as we already know) can also be read as b’o’lay, “spotted” (like a jaguar). Next comes a sign for ek’ that normally T H E S K I L L E D O B S E RV E R F R O M M A X A M 39 Fig. 10. Detail from the painting in ﬁgure 9, with three bundles of starlight highlighted in white. ” When this sign is placed over the logographic sign for kab’, or “earth,” as it is here, the two signs together are generally interpreted as diagramming the rising of a star or stars over the earth.
The human event, recorded in the rim text, occurred early in the life of a child of royal descent. The divine event, recorded in the picture and its caption, was a meeting of the gods on the eve of the creation of the present world. The previous world had fallen into darkness, which is why the artist chose to write and paint in solid black alone. The rim text begins above the headdress of the god who sits at the front of the top row of three gods. The opening passage follows a sequence that also appears (with differences in calligraphy and spelling) on cylindrical vessels painted by other artists: The ﬁrst pair of characters refers to a formal occasion on which the vessel was handed over to the person for whom it was made.
2000 Years of Mayan Literature by Dennis Tedlock