11 Ajaw 13 K’ayab (March 1, 2015): Jolom Konob’ (Santa Eulalia), Guatemala. Final Installment

11 Ajaw 13 K'ayab. Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara.

11 Ajaw 13 K’ayab. Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara.

Dear readers, we have lingered on Santa Eulalia for some time now, this being the fourth and final blog post from there.

In the 1920s, almost a century ago, anthropologists rocked the academic world by discovering the Maya calendar still in use in the remote Cuchumatanes Mountains of Guatelmala, which of course was not news to the Mayas themselves who incorporate the tsolk’in and the year bearers in their daily lives.

Study area of the 1927 Tulane University expedition from The Year Bearer’s People (1931) by Oliver La Farge and Douglas Byer.

Study area of the 1927 Tulane University expedition from The Year Bearer’s People (1931) by Oliver La Farge and Douglas Byer.

Oliver La Farge returned to Santa Eulalia in 1932 to focus specifically on the calendar and bring to the outside world its inner workings and the ways of the people using it.

Book cover from University of Chicago, 1947 publication.

Book cover from University of Chicago, 1947 publication.

Today, it is a blessing to say, we no longer need outsiders to give their views and opinions about “The Maya”: they speak for themselves. Today’s leaders in Santa Eulalia invited the Sak Chuwen Group, Maya epigraphers supported in part by a grant from MAM, to Santa Eulalia to share their knowledge of the glyphs and ancient calendar. They found the fire boxes still burning, the kalpu that La Farge wrote about in 1932 (p132) “Kalpu are the fire-boxes and the spaces before them in the base of the Great Cross, at which these officials make their costumbre”.

Fire at the base of “cruz de costumbre,” a memorial to ancestors and history.

Fire at the base of “cruz de costumbre,” a memorial to ancestors and history.

Q’anjob’al leader B’alam Sotz’ recently received his staff after a year of initiation and is now day keeper and ceremonial leader.

B'alam Sotz', Q'anjob'al leader, Santa Eulalia.

B’alam Sotz’, Q’anjob’al leader, Santa Eulalia.

He speaks to us directly on the meaning of pay tzib’ “ancient writing,” powerful words:

“A jun kuyoj yib´antoq ko pay tzib’ yin q’inal eb’ ix q’opoj k’al eb’ naq achej, aton jun mitx’qab’ yet chi wolji el junilxa jantaq mulnajil aq’b’il kan ayon, axka tu chi jiok ko q’inal k’al ko kawil jikisal yin txolilal atala’ ko b’eyb’al. Kax chi k’oli ko jihonelteq jantaq yob’taq nab’alej chak’anteq jib’an yuj junoqxa b’eyb’alej man jetoq. Ah masanil junti ohqton michaj juj yetoq jantaq jelanilej k’al ab’ix tz’ibeb’il kan yin pay tz’ib yuj eb’ ko mamin k’al eb’ ko chikay, axkatu ohqon ok yul jun b’e panan k’ax saq.

“Ah ko q’anej k’al ko b’isontoq yek’ sututoq yib’an q’inal aton ko pixan, kax aton jun tzet yetal ohqjakan ek’toq yul sq’ab eb’ juninal k’al eb’ chi tzaqloj tit jintaq, ta ayonti k’am chi jochej chi toj kan yin k’ayb’ank’ulal jun ko b’eyb’al ib’il ok yecheltax q’inib’i yul yib’an q’inalti. Yuj tu xin ayon ohqon ok sq’ab’ yaqanoq jun mulnajilti axka tu chi wolji eloq, yaqb’an chi b’ey ko mam k’u kax chi ek’ sututoq ko q’inal. Ta k’am ko q’anej, k’am ko b’eyb’al kax man joqtaqoq ko bisontoq yul yib’an q’inal ti majton ko txoxil makon txel kax k’aynaq, kamnaq ko pixan.”

(B’alam Sotz’, Maya Q’anjob’al, Santa Eulalia).

“The teaching/learning of Maya epigraphy among the young holds the formula for remaking and rebuilding the proper way for people to live, based on their own world view, and to flush out from youth a colonial and deceitful way of thinking, through the wisdom and the history that has remained hushed until now, in this new b’aq’in, when our grandmothers and grandfathers have come forth to clarify and illuminate our thoughts, presenting before our feet a white road.

“Language and time reckoning are the essence of what we are and are part of our legacy to future generations, lest the glorious and ancient culture to which we belong be buried in oblivion. Therefore, we must be the key to its preservation for as long as the Sun continues to revolve. Without the preservation of our customs and our reckoning of time, we shall have no identity and no heart.”

(B’alam Sotz’, Maya Q’anjob’al, Santa Eulalia).

To think that we at MAM and you, our readers and contributors, are playing a small part in this mission brings a sense of satisfaction beyond words.

Bruce Love, Ph.D
MAM (Mayas for Ancient Mayan)

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