8 Ajaw 13 Sak (November 1, 2014): Mopan Maya Workshop, Petén

8 Ajaw 13 Zak. Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara.

8 Ajaw 13 Zak. Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara.

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.

Otoniel Caal, president of the Mopan Linguistic Community, promoted the workshop in San Luis.

Otoniel Caal, president of the Mopan Linguistic Community, promoted the workshop in San Luis.

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.

Moisés Toma, Ixil Maya from the highlands, shares his knowledge of Mayan linguistics with his Maya brethren from Petén.

Moisés Toma, Ixil Maya from the highlands, shares his knowledge of Mayan linguistics with his Maya brethren from Petén.

Alejandro Garay answering questions during one of the exercises.

Alejandro Garay answering questions during one of the exercises.

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.

Learning to read his first Maya words in glyphs!

Learning to read his first Maya words in glyphs!

Sandra Yat, who attended the congress in Ocosingo, shares her knowledge with elders who came from Belize.

Sandra Yat, who attended the congress in Ocosingo, shares her knowledge with elders who came from Belize.

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.

The “spinning wheels” exercise to learn and better understand the Tzolk’in, the sacred calendar of 260 days.

The “spinning wheels” exercise to learn and better understand the Tzolk’in, the sacred calendar of 260 days.

Also, they drew the date in the Long Count of the final day of the classroom portion of the workshop.

An exercise to learn the Long Count.

An exercise to learn the Long Count.

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.

An explanation of Stela 1 during the visit to Ixkun.

An explanation of Stela 1 during the visit to Ixkun.

Putting in practice what had been learned in the classroom, reading the Long Count of Stela 2 in Ixkun.

Putting in practice what had been learned in the classroom, reading the Long Count of Stela 2 in Ixkun.

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.

Handing over to Otoniel Caal Grant Jone’s book on the conquest of the Itzas and the Relación of Villagutierre y Sotomayor on the conquest of Petén.

Handing over to Otoniel Caal Grant Jones’ book on the conquest of the Itzas and the Relación of Villagutierre y Sotomayor on the conquest of Petén.

It was an unforgettable experience for all.

The group that participated in the visit to Ixkun. A very exciting day!

The group that participated in the visit to Ixkun. A very exciting day!

Thank you.

Alejandro Garay, Sak Chuwen Group

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