Let me take this opportunity to announce that our blogs will now follow a schedule of every two winals or 40 days, so that the day Ajaw will remain the same, while the number of the day will advance by one. Floyd Lounsbury noted that the Jakaltek Maya refer to this as the “Steps of the Year” or U Yok Habil. Today’s date is 4 Ajaw 3 Xul, while the subsequent blog will follow on 5 Ajaw 3 Mol, August 22, followed by 6 Ajaw 3 Yax on October 1, etc. This gives us an easy progression to follow, while allowing ample time for our colleagues to report back from the field.
Today, the auspicious day of 4 Ajaw commemorates the same Tzolk’in day of the Long Count Era Base on 4 Ajaw 8 Kumk’u, mentioned with reverence throughout the inscriptions of the Classic Period as a day of renewal.
Today also follows one day after the solemn anniversary of Diego de Landa’s auto da fé on July 12, 1562, in which he admitted to having burned some 27 Maya codices and over 5,000 religious statues after ordering an Inquisition in Maní. We will never know the great extent of all that was lost on that tragic day, but the destruction of Maya books and Maya writing is clear, and we are left with only three confirmed Maya codices that managed to survive these fires, and those that surely followed.
But the disruption in Maya intellectual history was by no means final. Luckily, countless inscriptions carved in stone and in painted texts have endured, protected beneath the forest canopy and buried in the earth. For hundreds of years, Maya inscriptions remained unreadable. Yet, the single Maya voice of Gaspar Antonio Chi preserved the key to understanding how to decipher Maya writing. Though Landa mistook Chi’s syllabary as an alphabet, it was this very recorded document that later enabled Yuri Knorosov to begin to translate what had been lost.
So, let us commemorate this day 4 Ajaw in the spirit of renewal and regeneration. Now, Maya eyes are reading these inscriptions once again, and the long tradition of the Aj Tz’ib continues.
Following the great success of the Congreso in May, we are now reinitializing the application process for mini-grants to support workshops for Maya teachers to teach Maya students throughout the Maya area. As always, we are grateful for your ongoing support towards these efforts.