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CONTINUITIES IN MAYA POLITICAL RHETORIC: K'AWIILS, K'ATUNS, AND KENNINGS

  • Prudence M. Rice (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

Classic hieroglyphic texts do not describe Maya political organization, nor do colonial documents, forcing archaeologists to look elsewhere for clues. I propose that continuities in calendrically-based geopolitical rhetoric are recognizable in imagery and literary devices that can be traced from Preclassic/Formative times into the Colonial period. Imagery revolves around God K, k'awiil, and manikin scepters. The Classic manikin scepter materializes God K/K'awiil as a symbol of legitimate rulership, particularly at accession; the Postclassic analogue in the Dresden and Paris Codices is a God K effigy head, God K also symbolizing k'atuns. Related literary devices are kennings, specifically the took'-pakal or “flint-and-shield,” which appear in Classic texts and in the Chilam B'alam books in the context of defeat in warfare, the latter particularly referring to k'atun wars. Interrelated concepts, including obsidian, mirrors, serpents, and one-legged deities in the Popol Vuh and in Mexico (Tezcatlipoca), amplify these proposed continuities.

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E-mail correspondence to: price@siu.edu
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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Munro S Edmonson . 1982 The Ancient Future of the Itza: The Book of Chilam Balam of Tizimin. University of Texas Press, Austin.

Marilyn A Masson . 1999 Postclassic Maya Ritual at Laguna de On Island, Belize. Ancient Mesoamerica 10:5168.

Charles L Redman . 2005 Resilience Theory in Archaeology. American Anthropologist 107:7077.

Prudence M Rice . 2009a Late Classic Maya Pottery Production: Review and Synthesis. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 16:117156.

Karl A Taube . 1988 A Prehispanic Maya Katun Wheel. Journal of Anthropological Research 44:183203.

Gabrielle Vail 2000 Pre-Hispanic Maya Religion: Conceptions of Divinity in the Postclassic Maya Codices. Ancient Mesoamerica 11:123147.

Gabrielle Vail 2006 The Maya Codices. Annual Review of Anthropology 35:497519.

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Ancient Mesoamerica
  • ISSN: 0956-5361
  • EISSN: 1469-1787
  • URL: /core/journals/ancient-mesoamerica
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