The nature of Classic Maya writing was explained using examples taken directly from the stelae. This was followed by study of the calendar system, including the Long Count, the Tzolk’in (Stxolilal Q’inale’ in Q’anjob’al) and the Haab.
To better explain the calendars, exercise activities were done showing how the calendars worked. To understand the Cholq’ij (Tzolk’in) the participants formed two circles, one representing the 20 day-names and the other the numbers 1-13. The idea was the students learned how at the point where the two circles came together they were creating a single date; in effect the students themselves became a living calendar of 260 days!
Knowledge of the Tzolk’in or Stxolilal Q’inale’ was of ultimate interest for the participants since many of them were conscious of this calendar, still in use and respected by the elders of the community; and especially because the office of Alcalde Rezador (Chief Prayersayer) still exists today in Santa Eulalia and is closely linked to the count of the sacred days and the celebration of the Yearbearers.
For many of the young people at the workshop, this was the first introduction to the Maya culture of their ancestors, and moreover they were able to make a connection with the everyday material culture of their homes, from cultivation and consumption of maize to the wearing of traje, discovering they were part of a centuries-old living culture. Owing to the enthusiasm generated by this first workshop in Santa Eulalia, many requested a second one to deepen still more the themes of epigraphy and Maya calendar.
The organizers of the workshop and the facilitators promised to make every effort to continue teaching the Maya of today that they are part of a very ancient culture.
In the next workshop they hope to present in depth one of the most important themes in Maya culture, one that many grandparents still remember in Santa Eulalia: the celebration of the Year Bearers, or as they say in Q’anjob’al: Iqom Hab’il.
Written by Alejandro Garay, Sak Chuwen Group.