10 Ajaw 8 Muwan (January 14, 2020): Seeking Balance in Quetzaltenango

10 Ajaw 8 Muwaan: Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara

Seeking Balance in Quetzaltenango: Jun B’atz’ and Jun Chowen and the Art of Writing

Happy New Year! As we enter this new decade, as reckoned by the Gregorian Calendar, we must remember that this system of reckoning time is but one among many other systems, and that the sophisticated calendrical system of the Ancient Maya was used for far longer than that which we use today. While it was nearly lost, thousands of Maya people speaking many different Mayan languages are now relearning how their ancestors reckoned time and recorded their histories using their unique writing system. We are very excited to ring in this new and hopeful decade by supporting the upcoming Fifth International Congreso on Ancient Maya Writing this August in Comitán, Chiapas!

This month, we hear from our close friend, Ajpub’ Pablo García Ixmatá, one of the integral members of the Congreso Organizational Team. Last September, working together with the Asociación Qajb’al Q’ij and Rafael Landivár University, Ajpub’ organized a workshop in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala for 35 men and women from no less than eight different Mayan language communities in Mexico and Guatemala—all of them leaders in their respective communities.

In his workshop, Ajpub’ explored the meaning of Jun B’atz’ and Jun Chowen, the monkey brothers from the Popol Vuh, and how they represent the uniquely Maya relationship between writing and art, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a balance between these things in the development of human character.

We look forward to working with Ajpub’ and the Congreso Organizational Team in the coming months as we begin our fundraising efforts for this historic event, as well as to continue our program of Mini-grants for the New Year.

As always, thank you for your ongoing support, and we hope that you all have a prosperous and peaceful New Year.

Sib’alaj Maltiyoox,

Michael Grofe, President

Ojeer Maya’ Tz’ijb’
Introduction to the writing and system of the Ojeer Maya’ Tz’ijb’
Municipality of La Esperanza, Quetzaltenango
September 18 and 19, 2019

Workshop facilitator: Ajpub’ Pablo García


For two days an International Workshop of Introduction to the Maya writing system, Ojeer Maya’ Tz’iib’, was held with a group of Maya leaders, men and women who speak the following languages: Tsoltsil, Tseltal, and Mam from Chiapas, Mexico, and Mam, Awakateko, Chuj, Q’anjob’al, Kaqchikel, and K’iche’ of Guatemala. This activity was carried out in coordination with the Qajb’al Q’ij Association for Intercultural Education and Development, and Rafael Landívar University.

The main objective of the group: Rescue the ancestral knowledge and practices from the Ojeer Maya’ Tz’ijb’ and the 260-day Calendar to help people who seek peace and the creation of spaces to discern and develop comprehensive training in Maya villages.

Within the same dynamics of the workshop, the relationship between Jun B’atz’ and Jun Chowen was discussed in depth with the art of writing, drawing, carving, painting and singing and their relationship with the persona to seek balance.

During the two days 35 people participated, of the 40 guests invited.

General objective:

Learn the basic rules of reading, writing and the basic characteristics of the Maya’ Tz’ijb’ system.

First Day of the Workshop: Introduction about the writing system

Specific Objectives:

  1. Write words from the Ojeer Maya’ Tz’ijb’.
  2. Differentiate the signs of Tz’ijb’ that represent words and sounds.

First day of the workshop


The workshop was developed through a series of activities planned for two days to achieve the objectives set.

  1. Presentation of the History and history of the Mayan languages ​​in Mesoamerica.
  2. Presentation of the Maya cities where the monuments, stories, writing and the arts are found from the Ojeer Maya’ Tz’ijb’.
  3. Dialogue with the participants about the knowledge of the arts from the Popol Wuj and the practices of today.
  4. The presentation of the Workbook, which contains the syllabary and old texts that form words and phrases.
  5. Participants exercised and wrote words in their workbooks.
  6. The participants formed words, deciphered and explained the applied norm and the meaning of the word from the Mayan language they speak.

Second day of the workshop

With this first inter-institutional approach and coordination, they request permanent coordination for future workshops on the Ojeer Maya’ Tz’ijb’ and among other topics from Maya knowledge.

In this way, I thank MAM for the contribution to continue opening gaps to boost the Ojeer Maya’ Tz’ijb’ throughout Mesoamerica.


Ajpub’ Pablo García
Maya’ Tz’utujiil

Exercises and identification of syllabic glyphs.

Everyone presenting their individual work.


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