4 Ajaw 8 Sek (October 27, 2015): Maní Workshop: Ts’íib [“Writing”]

4 Ajaw 8 Sak. Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara.

4 Ajaw 8 Sak. Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara.

Maní Workshop: Ts’íib (“Writing”)
by Jiménez Balan Iván de Jesús

Young people from the community of Maní were invited to participate in an epigraphy workshop. The place: U Tuch Lu’um (“naval of the land”), Maní, Yucatan.


Beginning 2 Ix 2 Xul – Ending 6 Etz’nab 6 Xul
(July 13-17, 2015)

This workshop aimed to raise awareness among young people to learn the wisdom of our grandparents, knowing the Maya syllabary, learning about ancient writing, and providing basic tools to start writing and reading ancient inscriptions.

The first day began with the introduction of each participant, giving their name and school. They were provided the material used in the workshop (folder with syllabary, sheets of paper, pencils, pens, and notepad), and they were thanked for their presence in the Ts’iib workshop.


The first three days, students were introduced to some of the history of the glyphs, as well as syllables and logograms with their meanings. They were given the syllabary to write their personal names.


Later we analyzed some examples of how you can write some titles, like saying who is the father, the mother, and the place from where they come. Exercises are done and analyzed, and some questions are cleared up.


As an exercise, each student began to make his own stela with information already learned, so that in the end they could make a small stela of their own lineage.


Information was provided on Maya numbers, the Maya calendar tzol k’iin, and analysis of each of the elements they contain and their relationship with each other, as well as with the Maya calendar ha’ab.

They explained how the structure of a stela is read and what is the ISIG (Initial Series Introductory Glyph). The group learned to identify the glyph for birth, the ISIG, and Maya numbers to add to their lineage stela.

The inscriptions on the steps of the acropolis of Ek Balam and the transliteration of it were projected in the class to analyze (reference: FAMSI © 2003: Alfonso Garcia-Gallo Lacadena Glyph Corpus of Ek ‘Balam, Yucatan, Mexico), and the necessary information was provided for the tour to be made to the archaeological site of Ek Balam.

On Sunday the 16th, we traveled to the site of Ek Balam, a Mayan archaeological site in Yucatan, Mexico. It is located 30 km north of the city of Valladolid, 2 km from the Maya village of Ek Balam. In Mayan, éek’ báalam means “black jaguar” (éek’  “black,”  báalam “jaguar”).

The arrival in Ek Balam was at about 10 am, where we met with the group from Tipikal, accompanied by our colleague Daniela Cano. We took in everything that was possible to observe, identifying Mayan glyphs that this city had to offer. The group was able to identify syllables of stelae in the plaza, and glyphs on the steps of the acropolis. On the 17th, there was feedback on what they learned in the workshop and experienced at the archaeological site of Ek Balam.


The workshop ended with the presentation of awards in our new space Epigrafía Utuch Lu’um, but not before thanking the principal of U Yits Ka’an school, Atilano Loeza Ceballos, for allowing us to hold the workshop and for providing this space for us, and to the directors of MAM for their support.


Comments by the participants:

“All that we experienced was fun, because we learned a lot about writing of the ancient Maya, and I promise to continue studying all about Maya epigraphy.” -Pilar Poot  

“The workshop was very interesting, I learned to write my name in syllables and the names of my mom and dad. I would like to learn more about ancient writing.” -Sugeimi

“It was a unique experience for us to participate in this workshop. It was very rewarding, thanks to everyone who made it possible.” -Roseli

“To know the ancient Maya writing was very nice, I have always seen these pictures but did not know how to read them, now I can understand a little more about my culture. Thank you!” -Aline

¡Nib ‘ oolal!