7 Ajaw 8 Ch’en (September 16, 2019): Such Beautiful Words: Hieroglyphic Poetry in Chiapas and the work of Martín Gómez Ramírez

7 Ajaw 8 Ch’en. Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara

Hieroglyphic Poetry in Tzeltal

Such Beautiful Words: Hieroglyphic Poetry in Chiapas and the work of Martín Gómez Ramírez

This month, we hear from our longtime friend Martín Gómez Ramírez, who has been writing beautiful hieroglyphic poetry in Tzeltal for many years. Here, Martín reports back from a conference that he facilitated this past April on the origin and meaning of the name Oxchuc for the Intercultural University (UNICH) in Oxchuc, Chiapas and the Oxchuc House of Culture, in which Martín presented a dedicatory hieroglyphic plaque which he had written and sculpted in Tzeltal.

Martín then brought his understanding of hieroglyphic writing, poetry, and symbolism to an introductory workshop in San Cristobal de Las Casas, in which Tzeltal students produced and presented magnificent works in the ancient script of their ancestors.

This ongoing and important work is supported by your generous donations, and it helps young Maya people learn from their elders, create new and beautiful works of art and poetry, and proudly honor the traditions of their ancient ancestors.

Wakolowal ta a pisilik,
Michael J. Grofe, President



PLACE: Oxchuc, Chiapas, Intercultural University (UNICH) and Casa de Cultura de Oxchuc
DATE: April 4, 2019
SPEAKER: Martín Gómez Ramírez
TOPIC: The true meaning of “Oxchujk”
LANGUAGE ASSISTANTS: Tzeltal University students

I want to thank you for this invitation to allow me, for my dear people of Oxchuc, to share with you how this coming conference will be conducted, in particular by students from the Intercultural University of Chiapas, Oxchuc, in collaboration with the Casa de Cultura de Oxchuc.

Oxchuc is a hierarchy of villages organized into municipal offices, with a mix of traditional ceremonies and the jtuuneletik festivals, the religious rituals after colonization. After almost 33 years, since 1986, I have been in communities across the Oxchuc territory, for documentation and in attendance at parties; water wells; celebrations, such as molino de Xel in Santa Cruz, Chiapas; processions; and I participated in ritual ceremonies in holy places, such as at Cerro Muk’ul Ajaw, sacred to my ancestors.

First, I wish to correct the meaning of the word “Oxchujk,” from the current usage given by previous researchers as “three knots.” During international meetings of Maya epigraphy, in collaboration with Dr. Bruce Love, the true meaning of “Oxchujk” has been found in the Paris Codex on page 9, to be translated as “three captives.”

The true meaning of Oxchujk: “Three captured”

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