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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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