By Davíd Carrasco
- American Anthropologist
"A needs to for either specialist and critical non-professional scholars in Mesoamerica. those who find themselves drawn to complicated society and urbanism often, in addition to scholars of comparative faith, will locate it stimulating. most significantly, for someone drawn to the background of rules, the publication illuminates the significantly robust effect and position of a posh deity/mythico-historical determine in shaping one of many world's nice pristine civilizations."
- Queen's Quarterly
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Extra resources for Quetzalcoatl and the Irony of Empire: Myths and Prophecies in the Aztec Tradition
I. J. Gelb' s lucid Study of Writing is helpful to our understanding of these primary sources in two ways, first, through its classification of writing systems and, second, through the comments on the evolution of writing. Gelb defines writing and its relationship to forms of speech through a descriptive and comparative method. His analysis of writing systems from different parts of the world and different eras in history, including ancient America, led him to recognize that though writing can be defined as a "system of human intercommunication by means of conventional visible marks," there exist radical differences in the forms of writing.
It appears that pre-Columbian storybooks were part of the art of the ruling classes and contained stories painted and understood by very few individuals, usually the priestly sons of noble families who memorized the stories and pictorial conventions of their culture. While Jill Furst's claim about the "final authority" is ideally accurate, it is not always relevant because the majority of the documents have no related pictorial tradition. Prose works usually exist independent of pictorial images.
She notes that the image of stars in the Codex Vienna is a representation of human eyes, reflecting a pun on the Mixtec word for star. 28 This ideographic pun is further complicated by the fact that Mixtec languages are tonal and more precise meanings depend in part on pitch. " Complex metaphorical meanings are embedded in these apparently simple signs. This complexity and ambiguity is perhaps behind the report of the translator (from picture to Nahuatl to Spanish) of the Codex Mendoza, that the Indian interpreters of the pictures in the document argued so intensely over a number of images that he had only ten days to prepare his manuscript before it was to be sent from Mexico to the court of Charles V.