During three days (October 1-3 or 3 Muluk-5 Chuwen) an introductory workshop of Maya epigraphy took place for Mopan Maya in San Luis, Petén. Mopanes arrived from Petén and Belize, as well as some Q’eqchi’ speakers, altogether more than 35 participants.
The workshop was inspired by one of the groups of participants at the 2nd International Congress of Maya Epigraphers. The Mopan Mayas that attended the congress, led by the president of the Mopan Linguistic Community, Otoniel Caal, assumed the responsibility of spreading knowledge of Maya epigraphy among his colleagues from Petén and Belize. He made contact with one of the groups of teachers from the congress, the Sak Chuwen Group.
The teachers that came to share their knowledge included Moisés Toma, Maya Ixil student of linguistics from Cotzal, in his first workshop as teacher; and myself, Alejandro Garay, archaeologist and Sak Chuwen teacher for many tunes.
The workshop had a classroom part that took two days, during which various themes were explored, from the way of reading and writing with glyphs to basic knowledge of the Maya calendars (Long Count, Tzolk’in, and Haab). All the participants learned to write words in Mopan and were able to read many examples taken from texts written on stone as well as in the codices.
To understand better the dynamic of the calendars, they did various activities like forming moving circles of participants to demonstrate how the Tzolk’in works, with an inner circle of numbers (1-13) and an outer circle of the 20 day names.
Also, they drew the date in the Long Count of the final day of the classroom portion of the workshop.
The third day, a visit was organized to put into practice the acquired knowledge, going to see real texts, written in stone, at the Archaeological Museum “Juan Pedro Laporte” of Southeast Petén and at the site of Ixkun, located in the heart of Mopan territory.
At Ixkun, Stelae 1 and 2 were viewed, on which certain of the participants were able to identify various glyphs that they had learned during the classroom part of the workshop. There was also some discussion of the architecture of the site, including the wide roadways and an E-Group complex.
I was also able to hand over some documents that dealt with the history of Petén, that the Mopanes now keep in their archives at the Mopan Linguistic Community headquarters in San Luis.
It was an unforgettable experience for all.
Alejandro Garay, Sak Chuwen Group