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. Continue reading

12 Ajaw 13 Sak (October 31, 2018): Remembering the Ancestors

12 Ajaw 13 Sak. Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara.

At this time of the year, we remember the Ancestors in the great tradition of Día de los Muertos, which extends back to the time of the Ancient Ancestors themselves. We remember our collective work, and the very name of our organization, MAM, which also means ‘Ancestor’. In this month, full of jack-o-lanterns and spirits, remember that the very first story of a pumpkin-headed man is to be found in the K’iche’ Maya story of the Popol Vuh, when a carved pumpkin replaces the head of the Hero Twin, Hunahpu, as his own head becomes the ball in the game he plays with his brother against the Lords of Death in the underworld of Xibalbá. With the help of a rabbit, who distracts their adversaries by pretending to be the ball, Hunahpu retrieves his original head and then uses the pumpkin as the ball, which spreads its seeds far and wide as soon as it is kicked. This is an origin story not only for the first jack-o-lantern, but for the pumpkin itself, which comes to us from thousands of years of domestication by the Mesoamericans.  We owe much to the rich traditions of the Maya and the peoples of Mesoamerica.

This month, we are honored to publish a report from Hermelinda Gómez López, a first-time recipient of one of our mini-grants from Las Margaritas, Chiapas in Mexico. After participating in a pre-Congreso event last year in Chiapas, Maestra Gómez López has decided to share what she has learned with Tojol-ab’al Maya students in her community in order to help teach and preserve the rich culture of their ancestors.

Best wishes to you and your family during this season of remembrance and gratitude, and may the ancestors never be forgotten.

Ts’acatal,

Michael J. Grofe, President
MAM

Teams formed syllabic words with the help of the syllabary

Strengthening Knowledge about Ojer Maya’ Tz’iib’: the Revitalization of the Language and the Maya Culture of Our Ancestors

Through this medium I am pleased to present my report of activities of the workshop of Maya Epigraphy or Ancient Mayan Writing, carried out on April 26 and 27 of the present year in the town of Rafael Ramírez, in the municipality of Las Margaritas, Chiapas, thanks to the mini-grant funds granted by Mayas for Ancient Mayan foundation.

Once we clarified the change of headquarters, the Maya epigraphy workshop was carried out on April 26 and 27 without any setbacks, managing to train 35 students speaking the Mayan language Tojol-ab’al in the College of Bachilleres of Chiapas (COBACH) 290 from the town of Rafael Ramírez, municipality of Las Margaritas, Chiapas, Mexico.

Start of the Maya Epigraphy Workshop

On April 26 I arrrivd in the town of Rafael Ramírez to carry out the workshop. I went with Juan Alberto Toledo Herrera, Assistant Director , who gave me the classroom that they have equipped as a computer center because it is one of the largest spaces they have, and he also lent me the projector to facilitate the workshop. Once the place was set up, the workshop began welcoming the participants, and later with the support of the slides, we announced the purpose of the workshop as “Strengthening the knowledge about Ancient Maya Writing (Ojer Maya’ Tz’iib’), the revitalization of the language and the Mayan culture of our ancestors.” Also, I gave a brief introduction about the importance of the writing of the Ojeer Maya’ Tz’iib’ as a heritage of our grandfathers and grandmothers. I povided a small description of the Tz’iib’, that in Tojol-ab’al is ts’ijb’anel by the Aj Aj’iib’ (Ts’ijb’anum or ‘Scribe’), 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.

Individual advice on the use of the syllabary

On the 27th there was a review of the form of writing of our ancestors, and the use of the Maya syllabary was explained, along with its pronunciation, writing and the 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 they acquired on the subject, which they were happy and excited to do, as it was the first time they were given this type of workshop.

Doing exercises as a team

Finally, it should be noted that for both the young people and myself, the workshop was very satisfying as it helps to reinforce knowledge and cultural values. I thank our brothers from Guatemala for their teachings and for keeping in mind one of the most precious treasures we have as indigenous peoples, which is our language. Through it, we can know and transmit our roots and we can strengthen it by reading and writing the Tz’iib’ system.

I was able to carry out this workshop successfully, thanks to the manual “Introduction to the reading and writing of the Tz’iib system” offered at the Maya Epigraphy Pre-Congreso “Introduction to the operation and use of the Ojeer Maya’ Tz’iib’,” which took place on November 21st, 22nd and 23rd, 2017 in the city of Comitan de Domínguez, Chiapas, organized by the Documentation Center of the Tojol-ab’al Language (CDIT) through the teacher K’anal Ajpub, María Betha Sántiz Pèrez, and the Intercultural University of Chiapas (UNICH) in coordination with the Fundación Proyecto Lingüístico Francisco Marroquín (PLFM), the Rafael Landivar University of Guatemala, and Mayas for Ancient Mayan (MAM).

Sincerely,

Hermelinda Gómez López
Tojol-ab’al Maya speaker

Church in the town of Rafael Ramírez

11 Ajaw 13 Ch’en (September 21, 2018): Memorial to Pati Martínez Huchim

11 Ajaw 13 Ch’en. Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara.

We dedicate this blog posting to our dear friend and Maya colleague, Ana Patricia Martínez Huchim affectionately known as Pati. We lost her to cancer July 27th of this year at the age of 54. Born in 1964 in city of Tizimin, Yucatan, she lived there with her extended family all her life. She had been an active member of Mayas for Ancient Mayan (MAM) since 2006 and dedicated her life to documenting and preserving the Maya language and culture. She enjoyed the ethnographic work of gathering folktales from local Maya and from Colonial and post Colonial documents, recording them and sharing them in printed publications and online. She also drew from her own personal experience as a child growing up Maya, remembering folktales told to her by her parents. We are happy to know that MAM as an organization helped her in her work by awarding mini-grants to her on several occasions, thus supplying her with resources to help her follow her dream of promoting Maya culture. With these funds she conducted Maya calendar and glyphic workshops where she taught other Mayas in the local community how to write their ancient script and calendar.

Her undergraduate degree was in the anthropological sciences, specializing in linguistics and literature. She received her Master’s Degree in ethnohistory from the Autonomous University of Yucatan (UADY). Ethnographic fieldwork was one of her many skills and using these skills, she gathered folk stories of her people and shared them with the world.  Her emphasis was often on the everyday life of the women and children of Yucatan. In May of this year, Arthur Dixon published an online article about her in the journal Latin American Literature Today. The following are Pati’s words from that article:

My work is unique because my protagonists are Maya women, which has not happened often in literature in Yucatec Maya. I artistically re-elaborate the memory of Maya women who performed labors that were stigmatized by society. In my texts, Maya identity is recreated as part of the characters’ environment; it flows with agility to the readers’ eyes; in the everyday lives of the characters we find Maya traditions and religious beliefs, in a plot that draws in readers. And the meaning of the peoples’ names is intimately linked to their activities and ways of being.

For her many writings, she received several awards during her career including the Enedino Jiménez Indigenous Literature Prize in 2005 for her book U k’á jsajil u ts u ‘noj k’áax (in English: Memories of the Heart of the Mountain). Continue reading

10 Ajaw 13 Yaxk’in (August 12, 2018): Report on the Fourth International Congreso

10 Ajaw 13 Yaxk’in. Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara.

As the sun reaches its second zenith at the latitude of Copán, possibly the intended, back-calculated date of the 4 Ajaw 8 Kumk’u “creation” and the base of the Long Count, we reflect on the renewal of the world, and the revitlization of the Ojer Maya Tz’ib’—Ancient Maya Writing. It has now been one month since the Fourth International Congreso on Ancient Maya Writing took place in Huehuetenango, and I would like to once again thank all of you who helped to support this event. It was a profound and life-changing event for many of those involved, including myself, and it was a great honor to be able to participate. This month, I would like to publish an excerpt from the report on the event by Juan Rodrigo Guarchaj, the Executive Director of the Proyecto Lingüistico Franciso Marroquin (PLFM), the principal organizers of the event.

This year, the organizers requested to have multiple epigraphers come to present some of their research in a format similar to that of the Maya Meetings at the University of Texas, and to have us team up to teach the various workshops in three levels. We were very fortunate to have Barbara MacLeod, Nick Hopkins, Gerardo Aldana, and Christopher Powell help out.

Thank you all for your ongoing commitment to helping Maya people learn to read and write in the hieroglyphic script of their ancestors. It is making a world of difference in the lives of many Maya people.

Sincerely,
Michael J. Grofe, President
MAM

Group of Participants, Instructors, and Team Organizers.

Continue reading

9 Ajaw 13 Sek (July 3, 2018): A Resounding Success! The Fourth International Congreso on Ancient Maya Writing

9 Ajaw 13 Sek. Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara.

Dear MAM Supporters,

Thank you all for your incredible support to help make the Fourth International Congreso on Ancient Maya Writing a great success!!

I am deeply humbled by your generosity, and your willingness to help return the Maya Hieroglyphic Script, the Ojer Maya Tz’ib’, to the Maya people. It was wonderful seeing so many familiar faces, and so many new ones in Huehuetenango, and I was honored to be a part of this historic event. In the beginner’s workshop, Christopher Powell and I were able to teach many people to read and write the Long Count, including the entire Lunar Series. To see the dedication and gratitude among so many Maya people is something I will never forget. The pride and artistry among these new scribes is immeasurable. They have all joined the ranks of the Aj Tziib’.

Thank you to Barbara MacLeod, Nick Hopkins, Christopher Powell and Gerardo Aldana for helping with the workshops and presentations, and thanks to Elaine and David Schele for all of their help and support, and for documenting this event with photos!

Special thanks to the Mam people, who hosted us in their homeland and graced us with their beautiful marimba music, to our host, Director Manrique Díaz from Rafael Landivar University, to the Proyecto Lingüistico Francisco Marroquin team, and the Academia de las Lenguas Mayas de Guatemala. Lastly, thanks to our donors Kelly and William Warren for joining us at the Congreso. It was truly an unforgettable experience for us all.

The following is the inaugural address I prepared for the opening ceremonies, which took place on July 2, 2018.

Thank you for your tireless support, and for your understanding the great value of our collective work.

Chjontexix, Maltyox, and Yum Bo’otik,
Michael J. Grofe, President
MAM

Inaugural Address
Michael J. Grofe, President
MAM

July 2, 2018

Thank you to our gracious hosts, and to the organizers of this historic event. Thanks to the PLFM Team, to:

Saqijix Lopez Ixcoy
Beatriz Par Sapóm
Ajpub’ Garcia Ixmata
Juan Guarchaj Tzep
Hector Rolando Xol

I would like to thank all of the participants who have traveled from near and far to gather here to learn and to teach. Continue reading

Nuestros Corazones están con Ustedes, Guatemala

Our hearts go out to all of those affected by the tragic eruption of Volcan de Fuego in Guatemala. We stand in solidarity with the people of Guatemala as they mourn the loss of so many lives and recover from this devastating natural disaster.

We continue to work with our Maya colleagues to help fund the upcoming Congreso. However, if you wish to directly help with relief efforts, please see the links at the following website:

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/how-to-help-victims-of-guatemalas-fuego-volcano

Sincerely,
Michael J. Grofe and the MAM Executive Committee

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:

http://discovermam.org/congreso-2018/

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

Sincerely,

Michael J. Grofe, President
MAM

7 Ajaw 13 Pop (April 14, 2018): The Maya Hieroglyphic Renaissance

7 Ajaw 13 Pop. Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara.

The Maya Hieroglyphic Renaissance: Congratulations to our latest mini-grant recipients!

We are happy to report the first eight recipients of this year’s mini-grants, as well as the launch of our YouCaring web page, titled Maya Hieroglyphic Renaissance!

In our latest cycle of mini-grants, we have chosen to prioritize new applicants, as well as those who may not have applied recently. We are also continuing to accept applications for seven additional mini-grants to be held after this year’s Congreso in July.

We are proud to have been able to award mini-grants to the following eight Maya colleagues, speaking seven different languages in Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize:

Ajmaq Rony Otzoy Chipix
San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango, Guatemala: Kaqchikel.

Pedro Geovi Toledo
Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango, Guatemala: Q’anjobal.

Hermelinda Gomez Lopez
Las Margaritas, Chiapas, Mexico: Tojolabal.

Ana Patricia Martinez Huchim
Tizimin, Yucatan, Mexico: Yucatec.

Juan Jesús Méndez Intzín
Tenejapa, Chiapas and Xpujil, Campeche, Mexico: Tzeltal and Yucatec.

Jeremiah Chiac
Belmopan, Belize: Mopan, K’eqchi.

Esther Secundina Poot Cahum
Bulukax, Quintana Roo, Mexico: Yucatec.

Daniela Esther Cano Chan
Tipikal, Maní, Yucatan, Mexico: Yucatec.

We look forward to hearing more about these projects and publishing their reports in future blogs, and we look forward to the next round of applications! Congratulations to all of these recipients, and a hearty thanks to all of you who make these workshops possible through your generous donations! We have an exciting year ahead of us, and the momentum is building for this year’s Congreso in Huehuetenango. Guatemala.

This year, you can be a part of the Fourth International Congreso on Ancient Maya Writing!! For the first time, the organizers have agreed to allow for up to twenty donors to participate in this historic event, and we are offering this unprecedented opportunity to our donors. 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.  Please see our YouCaring web page for further details:

https://youcaring.com/discovermam

Please stay tuned, and we look forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,

Michael J. Grofe, President
MAM

6 Ajaw 18 K’ayab (March 6, 2018): Announcing the Fourth International Congreso on Ancient Maya Writing, a new blog, and fifteen new mini-grants!

6 Ajaw 18 K’ayab. Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara.

This month, we are happy to announce the dates of the upcoming Fourth International Congreso on Ancient Maya Writing that will take place this upcoming July 2-6 in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. For more information about the event, please feel free to contact the organizing team at the Proyecto Lingüistico Francisco Marroquin (PLFM):

infoplfm@yahoo.com
ojertzib.2018@gmail.com

We will soon be inaugurating this year’s fund drive to help support this event, so please stay tuned for further updates on how you can help! We always appreciate your ongoing support, which makes our work possible. In the meantime, if you would like to help support the upcoming Congreso, please feel free to donate:

http://discovermam.org/support/

The PLFM team has also put together a beautiful new blog, where they will be posting information and articles related to revitalizing Ancient Maya Writing, or Ojer Maya’ Tz’ib’, the name of the blog:

http://ojermayatzib.blogspot.com/

Lastly, thanks to the generous donations of our many supporters, we are pleased to announce that we will be awarding fifteen new mini-grants for this coming year! Our team is currently reviewing the applications we have already received, and we will continue to accept more applications until we have awarded all fifteen mini-grants. Approximately half of these will be granted before the upcoming Congreso in July, and the remaining mini-grants will be awarded following this event.

We look forward to an exciting year ahead!

Thank You all for your continued support and interest in our shared goals.

Sincerely,

Michael J. Grofe, President
MAM

5 Ajaw 18 Muwaan (January 24, 2018): Hieroglyphic Revitalization in Maya Centre, Belize

5 Ajaw 18 Muwaan. Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara.

Happy Gregorian New Year to everyone! I recently returned from a trip to Guatemala, where I was able to have a productive meeting with Juan Rodrigo Guarchaj and Ajpub Pablo Garcia Ixmata to help plan for the upcoming Fourth International Congreso this July. Following this, I traveled to Belize, where I led a student trip that included facilitating a workshop with Ernesto and Aurora Saqui and Manuel Bolon for 28 participants in Maya Centre in the Stann Creek District.

I had met Ernesto and Aurora on two previous student trips that I co-led in Belize in 2003 and 2004, and it was a great honor to work with them again at the beautiful grounds of their Nuuk Che’il Cottages where they hosted our one-day workshop under a large, thatched meeting hall on January 7th. After meeting Manuel Bolon at the Third International Congreso in 2016, Manuel invited me to come to Belize to help with hieroglyphic instruction, since some time had passed since 2013, when our former president, Bruce Love, facilitated workshop with Ernesto Saqui in Toledo.

Our group, with Ernesto and Aurora Saqui standing in front.

Continue reading