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By Dennis Tedlock

Mayan literature is without doubt one of the oldest on the planet, spanning an brilliant millennia from deep pre-Columbian antiquity to the current day. the following, for the 1st time, is a completely 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 residing and dealing one of the Maya to gather this groundbreaking ebook, 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 historic writers and demanding situations the concept Mayan rulers claimed the prestige of gods. 2000 Years of Mayan Literature expands our knowing and appreciation not just of Mayan literature yet of indigenous American literature in its entirety.

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Example text

The one on the left, which seems to be an alternative version of the top head, is marked with a k’in sign (highlighted in red in the illustration below), meaning “sun” or “day,” whereas the one on the right is marked with an ak’b’al, or “night,” sign (also in red): The signs above these two heads are in the right position to represent verbs. If they have the same values as their Classic equivalents, then the one on the left states that the sun god is coming into a position of power, and the one on the right states that his nocturnal counterpart is receiving offerings.

That the artist intended such a play of meaning seems likely, given that he or she clothed all seven gods in kilts made from jaguar pelts and 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 37 covered the throne with a complete jaguar pelt. Mayans likened the black-spotted hides of jaguars to the white-spotted night sky, partly because of the sound play provided by ek’. The account of the ordering of the present world continues with a series of clauses that repeat the verb ch’uhb’a, whose various objects are given their places in the order of things by a subject who will not be named until the end of the caption.

In the second clause, 3 luut means “the 3 who were born together,” referring to triplets. These would be the three hearthstones of the earthly Mayan fireplace and the three stars that mark a celestial hearth, as will become clear later. The next pair of characters combines ch’uhb’a with jawtechi, referring to a space like the one inside a house, in this case the space between sky and earth. The final repetition of ch’uhb’a is followed by B’alam Ak’ab’, “Jaguar Night,” the name of the deity who sits at the front of the row of the three figures in the sky.

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