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Mayan, Aztec, and Inca Manuscript Making

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on 15 December 2013

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Transcript of Mayan, Aztec, and Inca Manuscript Making

Mayan, Aztec, and Inca Manuscript Making
Mayan Codices
Folding books (like an accordion)written in Maya hieroglyphics on Mesoamerican bark cloth

Main source of paper: wild fig tree (amate)

: Mayan word for paper of this sort

Developed around 5th century (roughly when the codex became the predominant over the scroll in the Roman world)

More durable than papyrus

Made by professional scribes working under patronages such as the Tonsured Maize god and the Howling Monkey gods
Aztec Manuscripts
Aztec glyphs are vastly simpler than the Mayan writing

Existed primarily for naming people and places, as well as number glyphs used for accounting records but not much beyond these purposes

Most Aztec codices were burned, but a few remain

They were written on deer hide and plant fiber paper

They recorded droughts, solar eclipses, and famines

They also recorded historical events on maps
Inca Manuscripts
The Incan People occupied what would later become Peru

Túpac Amaru (1545-1572) was the last Incan monarch

The Incas did not have a written form of writing

Spain began their conquest of the Inca Empire in the 1530s
Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala

Born to a noble family in Southern Peru

Fluent in many native Quechua and Aru Dialects

Wrote "The First New Chronicle and Good Government"

Was meant to protest the treatment of the Andes people by the Spanish after their conquest

Desired reform from the Spanish rule of the Inca colony

He designed a new government type aiming for equality

Guaman Poma's Inca Chronicle
Contains: history of the Andean region
Suggested reforms of the Spanish rule of their Inca colonizations
Written primarily in Spanish, with some Quechua
Techniques: Hand written, close to 400 full page illustrations
Pictures meant to convey the suffering of the people under Spanish rule
Chronicle meant as a call to reform from Spanish King Felipe III

String and Knot Theory
The Inca were the only Bronze Age civilization without a known form of writing

May have used knotted strings as a way of conveying information; known as "khipu"

Cords hung horizontally like an abacus

Binary, rather than the pictorial form of writing used by other civilizations
Madrid Codex (Tro-Cortesianus Codex)

112 pages, longest of the surviving codices

Mainly consists of almanacs and horoscopes that were used to help Maya priests in the performance of their ceremonies
Also contains astronomical tables

A close analysis of the glyphic elements suggests that a number of scribes were involved in production
Dated between 1250 and 1450 AD
Dresden Codex (Codex Dresdensis)
74 pages, most elaborate of the codices
Written on a long sheet of paper to make a book of 39 leaves, written on both sides
Contains almanacs as well as astrological tables for the eclipses as well as the Venus cycle (an important calendar for the Maya, associated with war)
Estimated that it was written just before the Spanish Conquest
Brought to Dresden in 1739
Paris Codex
22 pages

Contains prophecies for tuns and katuns (aspects fo the Mayan calendar) as well as the Maya zodiac

First appeared in 1832 as an acquisition of the National Library in Paris
Mayan Writing
Maya writing uses logograms (symbols which represent words) and glyphs (which represent syllables)
The only Mesoamerican writing system that is largely deciphered
Earliest inscriptions date back to 3rd century BCE
When the Spanish conquered the Mayan land, they destroyed most of the manuscripts or codices
In Mayan writing, a variety of syllabic symbols were used
The scribes would select the combination of glyphs which formed the most appealing image
Aztec Manuscripts
Pre-Columbian Codices are pictorial, Spanish notes were later added
Few surviving Pre-Columbian codices, but over 500 Post-Conquest codices
Codices used to transcribe historical events, as religious documents, as cultural documents, and as calendars
Aztec society was highly codified, so only noblemen were able to read/write
Aztec Writing
Aztecs spoke Nahuatl

Three kinds of Nahuatl writing: dots, logograms, and phonetic glyphs

Writing was not linear, and the glyphs could have multiple meanings

Aztec Day Signs
Aztec Day Signs would be
cycled through and paired with a
coefficient from 1-13
to track the days
Analyzing a Page from the Codex Borbonicus
Represents New Fire Ceremony; meant to stave off the end of the world

Page is entirely logograms, with spanish notes at the bottom

Shows priests lighting a bonfire
that signifies the New Year
Maya, Aztec and Inca Manuscripts
by Victoria Palfini, Emilia Yoffie, Terrence Arjoon, Quanita Kendrick, and Taylor Cantrall
"Ancient Scripts: Aztec."
Ancient Scripts: Aztec.
N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.

"Felipe Guaman Poma De Ayala: El Primer Nueva Corónica Y Buen Gobierno - Digital Web Edition - The Royal Library, Copenhagen - The Royal Library."
Felipe Guaman Poma De Ayala: El Primer Nueva Corónica Y Buen Gobierno - Digital Web Edition - The Royal Library, Copenhagen - The Royal Library.
N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.

Tobin, Thomas J. "The Construction of the Codex In Classic- and Postclassic-Period Maya Civilization."
The Construction of the Codex In Classic- and Postclassic-Period Maya Civilization.
N.p., 7 May 2001. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.

Wilford, John Noble. "String, and Knot, Theory of Inca Writing."
The New York Times.
The New York Times, 12 Aug. 2003. Web. 13 Dec. 2013.
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