13 Ajaw 13 Mak (December 10, 2018): The Maya Script Lives Again

13 Ajaw 13 Mak. Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara

All of us at MAM wish you and your families a wonderful holiday, and we send our deepest thanks to all of our supporters for making this an unforgettable year, with the successful Congreso in Huehuetenango. As we move into 2019, we are once again preparing for our yearly holiday fundraiser, while also soon announcing our next call for applications for our upcoming round of mini-grants.

We look forward to another exciting year ahead as our Maya colleagues prepare for the next Congreso, to take place in Quintana Roo, Mexico in 2020, and we are always grateful for all of the support we receive to help the Maya in their efforts to revitalize their ancestral script.

This month, we hear from Daniela Esther Cano Chan, a dynamic teacher who taught an introductory workshop on Maya writing from May 18 to July 15 for twenty five Yucatec Maya students at the Colegio de Bachilleres Plantel in Teabo, Yucatan, just outside of the Pueblo of Maní.

In 1562, Maní was the site of the infamous and tragic auto de fé of Diego de Landa, who burned many Maya codices and religious statues, thereby destroying unknown amounts of Maya history, science, and literature—and almost completely erasing all knowledge of the script. Yet, what once almost vanished has now returned, and it is a profound testimony to the resilience of Maya language, culture, and people that we now see the Maya script return to the very community where this tragedy took place so many years ago. The Maya script lives again.

Yum bo’otik, Na bo’otik,

Michael J. Grofe, President
MAM


Introductory Course in Maya Epigraphy
Daniela Esther Cano Chan

This workshop was designed for young people from the southern area of Yucatan, mostly indigenous people who speak the Yucatec Maya language, from the villages of Maní, Tipikal, Teabo, Mayapan, Cantamayec and Chumayel, in order to share knowledge about the ancient writing of our Mayan grandparents and grandmothers and allow them to have an increasingly strong connection with their roots.

May 18, 2018:
The geographic location of the Maya area was explained to the students, along with the outline of the different Mayan languages and their conservation over time, the basis of ancient Mayan writing, including the glyphs, reading order, writing designs, and examples of stelae. We also began to identify the difference between the syllabary and logograms.

May 25, 2018:
We continued with the topics of the syllabary and the logogram, and the students were taught the correct process to write their name with Maya writing.

July 1, 2018:
We continued with the topics of the syllabary and the logograms to explain the correct process of creating a small family stela with the name of their town.

July 8, 2018:
The instructors explained the names of the Mayan numbers, how they are written and pronounced, and taught the numeral classifiers in Maya. Finally, the names of the villages were checked and then painted by the students.

July 15, 2018:
On this last day of the workshop, the work was presented and each student gave their opinion about what they thought of the epigraphy workshop.

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