Cross Talk in the Books of Chilam Balam

Joel Robbins

in Converting Words

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780520257702
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944916 | DOI:
Cross Talk in the Books of Chilam Balam

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The notarial documentation demonstrates that at least some Maya people in the pueblos learned to write and produced works in alphabetic script as early as the 1550s. The genres examined in the previous two chapters are all part of the governance of the pueblos reducidos. It is perhaps unsurprising that the language in which they are cast is itself Maya reducido, with traces of doctrinal Maya. This chapter moves to the far end of the discourse formation, where texts were written by Maya authors for Maya addressees, outside the spheres of governance and mission. The works in question include the so-called Ritual of the Bacabs, a collection of medicinal prescriptions with scripted texts to be recited during treatment. They also include the Books of Chilam Balam (BCBs). Both kinds of work were external to reducción; the missionaries described them as superstitions and curiosities that impeded proper Christian practice. They perpetuated either sorcery, in the case of the medicinal texts, or subversive politics, in the case of the BCBs.

Keywords: Maya authors; Maya addresses; Ritual of the Bacabs; medical prescriptions; Books of Chilam Balam

Chapter.  12131 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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