8 Ajaw 13 Sip: Strengthening the Knowledge of the Ancient Maya Script

8 Ajaw 13 Sip. Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara.

On the Eve of the Fourth International Congreso: Strengthening the Knowledge of the Ancient Maya Script

The Fourth International Congreso is just around the corner in July, and we are gearing up for an unforgettable event. Thanks to all of our donors who have helped to make this possible. If you have not yet donated, please click the link above, and your donation will help to fund this historic and cultural event!

This month, we report on two recently funded workshops in Belize and in Chiapas, Mexico. Working with the organization Inno’on-La’oh, Jeremiah Chiac tells us about a beginner’s level weekend workshop for 12 Mopan and Kekchi speakers in Belmopan, Belize held on May 4-5, 2018:

The two day workshop was a success! Mr. Jorge De Leon assisted in his capacity to facilitate the workshop. He covered on the first half day the history of epigraphy and introduction to Hieroglyphs then in the afternoon covered writing our names in Ancient  Hieroglyphs. Mr. De Leon was very instrumental in ensuring each participant understood before moving forward. 

On the second day we recapped day one briefly and started numbers and calculations in the morning, and then calendar system and birthdays. Each participant was excited to know that they can now write their name and birthday in Ancient  Hieroglyphs. 

Mr. Jorge de Leon instructs the students about the rules of hieroglyphic writing

Following the issuing of certificates, the students provided the following feedback: 

“It was a great honor for me to attend this workshop. I have learned some of the meaning of the hieroglyphs. I really like this workshop because it teaches me to be proud of who I am and my background. Also, most of all at least I can write my name in my very own language.” 

“I really enjoyed the training and like the initiative that Inno’on – La’oh is doing. It was so wonderful to learn more about the origin of the Mayas and see how all their words have different meanings. What I enjoyed the most is their numbering system and its additions. Great job guys!”

“The hieroglyphs workshop is absolutely insightful…In these two days I learned quite a lot, for example when he used a tablet and I translated it into my native language – having quite close a meaning”

Students study the syllabary in Belmopan, Belize

In Las Margaritas, Chiapas, Hermelinda Gómez López reports on a two-day workshop she taught and facilitated for 35 Tojol-ab’al speakers at the Colegio de Bachilleres de Chiapas (COBACH) on April 26-27, 2018. This workshop was made possible thanks to the Precongreso held in Comitán de Domínguez, Chiapas in November of 2017:

The purpose of the workshop was announced as “Strengthening the knowledge about the writing of the Ojeer Maya’Tz’iib’ [Ancient Maya Script], for the revitalization of the language and the Mayan culture of our ancestors”. A brief introduction was given about the importance of the writing of the Ojeer Maya ‘Tz’iib’ as the heritage of our grandparents and grandmothers.

A small description was made of the Tz’iib’ that in Tojol-ab’al is ts’ijb’anel and Aj Tz’iib’ (Ts’ijb’anum) with the support of images such as stelae, codices, vessels and with images where the aj tz’iib’ appears painting or writing on some surface. In the same way, they were given a small introduction about the Tojol-ab’al literacy and Maya epigraphy, making a small comparison of the writing of our ancestors with the way of writing today. Finally, the aim was to raise awareness among young people of being proud of their roots and of appreciating the ancestral knowledge that exists in their community.

On the 27th there was a review of the form of writing of our ancestors, and we explained the use of the Maya syllabary, its pronunciation, its writing and structure of words, the signs they represent, the formation of words in syllables, and the numbering from 1 to 20. Subsequently the young people did exercises to put into practice the knowledge acquired on the subject, about which they were happy and excited as it was the first time they were given this type of workshop.

Teams work together to write words in Las Margaritas, Chiapas

We are very excited about the upcoming Congreso, and there are still spaces available for those who would like to donate and participate in this historic event! For an additional donation, we will be offering a chance to travel to the sites of Copán and Quirigua from June 24-30 for an extensive study of their hieroglyphic inscriptions.  For more detailed information, please click the following link:


We thank you for all of your ongoing support, and we look forward to hearing from you!


Michael J. Grofe, President

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