Museo de America

Mayan writing

Madrid for kids

consisted of about 800 individual signs or glyphs.  It is read from left to right and top to bottom.The Glyphs represented words or syllables for numbers, time periods, royal names, titles, dynastic events, and the names of gods, people, objects, buildings, places, and food.  Scribes carved in stone and wood or painted on paper, plaster walls and pottery.  

The Madrid Codex is one of only three or four surviving Maya codices.  Hundreds were burnt by a Spanish monk as part of the inquisition.  The Codice contains information regarding the god Chaak and rain ceremonies; planting and agriculture; the capture and sacrifice of prisoners and other ceremonies; carving deity images; beekeeping; and many other activities over a year.  

A codice is like a book.  The one on display is a reproduction of only a fragment.  It is written on fig tree bark which is given a layer of a lime plaster and then painted on.  The pages are folded accordian like.

Chac was the Mayan God of rain and thunder, fertility and agriculture.   Some MesoAmericans knew him as Ah Hoya which also means one who urinates.  The Aztecs called him Tlaloc.   Often symbolised as aserpent coming from the sky.   He received many sacrifices from the killing of captured prison ers to the drowning of small children.   Not a very nice God really.

'We found a great number of books and since they contained nothing but superstitions and falsehoods of the devil we burned them, which they took most grievously, and which gave them great pain.' (Friar Diego de Landa, 1566 after burning books of Aztecs etc).

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