9 Ajaw 3 Pax (January 29, 2017): Writing Our Names in the Earth

9 Ajaw 3 Pax. Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara.

Writing Our Names in the Earth: 
Workshop on Ancient Maya Writing in Cubulco, Baja Verapaz, Guatemala
Today is 9 Ajaw, and it has now been exactly one Tzolk’in since the Tercer Congreso International de Escritura Jeroglífica Maya, and this month, we are publishing the report from a workshop led by Mateo Ajualip Rodriguez in the Achí community of Cubulco, Baja Verapaz, Guatemala. To conclude his workshop, Mateo had his thirty participants carve their names into clay using the Maya script.
I would also like to take this occasion to thank all of those who donated in our holiday fund drive, and to announce that we will once again be accepting applications for mini-grants on March 1st!

We look forward to funding more workshops like this one, which bring together Maya people from multiple communities to learn and study the writing of their ancestors. We also appreciate Mateo’s insights and recommendations for the future as we work together towards our shared goals.

Maltiox,
Michael J. Grofe, President

Maya Epigraphy Workshop Report

September 22, 2016
Cubulco, Baja Verapaz
Mateo Ajualip Rodríguez

INTRODUCTION

In the context of the demand for language and culture in the municipality of Cubulco, Baja Verapaz, the Ojeer Mayab ‘Tz’iib’ (Maya Epigraphy) Workshop was held, with the participation of leaders, educational authorities and teachers, with the purpose that they can apply these things in their educational centers and institutions where they work. For years Maya writing had been forgotten, at the present time the grandchildren of the ancient Maya revive writing with emphasis on the pedagogization of the Tz’iib ‘as an educational methodology. At the end of the workshop, clay was used to represent proper names, places or other things, demonstrating to society that it has not been lost, rather it has begun to recover, promote, consolidate, and disseminate the ancestral knowledge of Mayan peoples .

The enthusiasm for Maya Epigraphy was reflected in the participants, something innovative, and during the process, they were able to discover the linguistic richness of the Mayan language, as well as the advances of Mayan astronomers, and the perfection of their writing and calendar as contributions to modern science. In the search for the Mayan unity of thought, group work was implemented, workshops to exchange ideas about what was learned to raise awareness among participants and society about the philosophical value of Mayan epigraphy.

We had the participation of the local and departmental mass media to publicize the work of MAM as an institution that supports the Mayan peoples in their cultural manifestations. The media were the means by which they disseminated the results of the participants in the workshop as well as the participation of individuals from three municipalities of the same department.

ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Within the scope of the implementation of the Maya writing, the participation of the sisters and brothers of the municipalities of Cubulco, Rabinal and San Miguel Chicaj of the department of Baja Verapaz.
  • The presence of thirty professionals and students, demonstrating their willingness and interest to absorb knowledge during the process of the Maya epigraphy workshop, and their commitment to replicate in the workspaces and strengthen Maya writing.
  • The participation of media such as: Our Journal, Salamá News, and publications on social networks by the participants.
  • The involvement of the authorities of the Achi Linguistic Community, the Academy of Mayan Languages of Guatemala and the Mayan Culture and Linguistic Association “Oxlajuj B’e” as part of the organization of this event.
  • The acquisition of knowledge about the emergence of Maya writing, the evolution of ancient K’ichee’ which was part of the contents of the workshop.
  • The creation of 6 words in clay from the participants, where they learned the techniques of using clay and the instruments to translate the Maya epigraphy.

LIMITATIONS

  • The lack of knowledge on the part of the participants about Mayan epigraphy, many of whom do not know about the Maya writing system, thereby it takes more time and dedication to teach properly.
  • The economic factor and time has limited the prolongation of the learning for those involved with Maya writing.
  • The teaching space used was anti-pedagogical due to lack of adequate ventilation.
  • The number of people attending the workshop was limited due to economic capacity, although there were more interested.

CONCLUSION

The Maya writing system is unknown to society due to social imposition and the invasion of the Maya peoples of Guatemala, but efforts have been made to teach focus groups to strengthen and replicate them for other people on the part of the groups that received the workshop. It is necessary to know the social and political situation of the Mayan people to introduce the ancient writing as part of life and learning.

With the support of MAM, 30 people were trained to form part of the network of facilitators of Ojer Mayab ‘Tz’iib’ in the communities and municipalities where the participants belong to consolidate the linguistic and philosophical richness of ancient Mayan writing. This is intended to involve all social sectors for learning and teaching in any educational center and to ensure that all youth know and practice Maya epigraphy.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Through MAM coordination, a Network of Facilitators of the Ojeer Tz’iib ‘should be implemented in all Mayan communities of Mesoamerica, to claim the rights of the Mayan peoples of America.
  • Create a space of cooperation, where public and private institutions are involved to introduce Mayan epigraphy into the educational contents of all levels of education in Guatemala.
  • With the support of MAM, centers of Mayan epigraphy are implemented, regionalizing the Mayan peoples to possess a Mayan scientific study center.
  • The preparation of material such as: books, magazine, posters, leaflets of the Maya writing system and distribute them in all educational spaces to strengthen the teaching of Maya writing.

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