Presentation on theme: "Mayan Writing Andrea M. Ranada Mayan Writing Andrea Ranada."— Presentation transcript:
1 Mayan WritingAndrea M. RanadaMayan WritingAndrea Ranada
2 The Maya Scribe Typical appearance: Hair wrapped with a head cloth A “stick bundle” attached to the head clothThe occasional stick-like tool included in the headdressA sarong tied at the waist (its length may vary).The scribe is writing on an open codex with jaguar-skin covers (Late Classic plate)Rabbit God writing a codex with what appears to be a quill pen. Detail from and 8th century vaseScribes had a special status in societySome kings and queens were also scribesThe Maya worshipped the gods of writing, one of them being Rabbit God.
4 Limestone Limestone is abundant in the Yucatán peninsula Freshly excavated limestone is fairly soft and easily manipulated, but eventually hardens upon exposure to airThe picture on the left is from the Tablet of the 96 Hieroglyphs at Palenque on limestone.
5 Volcanic Tuff Found at Copán (limestone was rare in this region) Extremely durable under the humid conditions of the areaProduced remarkable three-dimensional sculpturesThe picture above depicts the Moon Goddess with the Rabbit God. It is from a bench in the scribal compound of Copán.
6 Plaster and PaperPlaster (calcium carbonate) is commonly used on the walls of ancient Mayan architecturePlaster can be found on the surface of all four Maya codices, suggesting that the scribes did not directly write on the paper, but more on plaster-like surfacesAmate is the paper used by the Maya; it is made from the inner bark of wild fig treesPapermaking process:Boil inner bark fibersSoak it in limeLayer fibers in grid formationCompress to combine the layers into a sheetThe blank reverse of pp8-10 of the Grolier Codex. The damage on the pages reveals the fibrous structure of bark paper.
7 Other Surfaces Jade Pottery Wood Bone Shell Jade: The back of an Early Classic pendantPottery: The text around the rim indicates that this is a vessel for chocolate drink.Wood: Sapodilla wood lintel from Temple I in TikalBone: A human captive’s femur; it bears the portrait of his captorShell: conch-shell trumpet bearing pictures of the Moon God (right). The text refers to ceremonial bloodletting.
8 Mayan Writing Tools Carving and Incising Tools No evidence that it was made of metalMost likely stone chisels were used on monumental stoneOn bone, wood, and shell, hafted obsidian blades were probably usedBrush and Quill PensBrush pens supposedly similar to traditional Chinese brush pensQuill pens were used for more thinner lines and more precise designsInkpots and InksThe Maya used conch shells cut in half lengthwise as inkpotsBlack and red pigments were typically used on the codicesConch-shell inkpot with hematite paint remains
9 The inner bark of wild fig trees were used to form the sheets of paper. Horizontal sheets were made and folded accordion-style to form the Maya booksThese folded sheets had script and illustrations on both sides and possibly wood or leather served as covers.The Maya books served a general purpose of presenting calendrical and celestial systems, including but not limited to:Venus cycle tablesEclipse tablesPictures of ceremonies & deitiesMultiplication tablesA 260-day sacred almanacThe Maya CodicesPages of the Dresden Codex. It presents long calendrical calculations and multiplication tables
10 The numbers 1-13 permutate with the 20 day names, so that a particular day will occur every 260 days One bar means 5, and a dot means 1.The 260-day count
11 The Paris Codex Katuns (20 years) Tuns (360 days) The grand cycle is 13 katuns, and after 13 katuns, history is supposed to repeat itself.The codex only documents 11 katuns (at least 2 pages are missing).The center of each codex page has an image of the deity that rules that katun (one katun is documented per page).Hieroglyphic text about prophecies and rituals frames these images.Page 24 of the Paris Codex. It shows Maya constellations
12 The Madrid CodexAlso known as the Tro-Cortes, because at some point the codex split into two parts (1st part Tro, 2nd part Cortes) and was found at separate occasions in SpainThis codex seems to be purely about divinationIt does not contain astronomy, prophecies, or multiplication tables, but it does contain a 260-day almanac.Pages 14 and 15 of the Madrid Codex. The top third are two 260-day almanacs where gods perform ritual acts. The procession of day signs on the bottom cross the rain serpents and form a 260-day count
13 The Grolier Codex A recent discovery Only half (10 pages) of it has been foundIt primarily deals with the 582-day Venus cycleEach page deals with one part of the cycleEach part has a sinister deity dominating that part of the cycleThe deities are sinister because the Mesoamerican mentality considers all aspects of the planet as “ill-omened”.Page 6 of the Grolier Codex. The Death God is on the left, in the act of decapitating a captive, represents Venus as the Evening Star
14 The Dresden CodexConsists of several 260-day almanacs as well as Venus, eclipse, and multiplication tables.The almanacs were divided vertically into t’olsEach division corresponds to a sacred Maya year (tzolkin)Each year is a period of 260 days, or a tonalpohualliEach t’ol has a calendrical glyph with hieroglyphic text within four glyph blocks above itEach calendrical glyph indicates a day in the sacred calendar, and right below it is an image of a god or some sort of protagonist, such as the Moon Goddess.Page 7 of the Dresden Codex. There are various almanacs here based on the 260-day count. Above each seated god is a block of 4-6 glyphs describing a ritual action, and naming the god as the actor.
15 ConclusionThe purpose of Mayan writing, specifically in codices, is to document celestial events and calendrical systems.The Grolier and Dresden codices deal with more astronomical instances.The Paris Codex concerns katuns and tuns.The Madrid Codex remains purely divinatory.The content of the four codices all truly represent the remarkable achievements of the ancient Maya.Top left (ah k’u hun)Top right (Yiban)Middle right (the ah k’u hun of)Bottom right (kalom)