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Glyph Drawings from Landa's Relación: A Caveat to the Investigator
IT IS AXIOMATIC that in epigraphy, as in field archaeology, an accurate record of the primary data forms the cornerstone of any successful analysis. In the history of the study of Maya hieroglyphic texts on stone monuments, this self-evident truth accounts for the enduring utility of the work of Maudslay (1889-1902), with its splendid photographs and the accompanying drawings by Annie Hunter. In our own time, the highest possible standards of recording are reflected in the ongoing production of the Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions under the direction of Ian Graham, and also in the accuracy of William R. Coe's drawings of the monumental inscriptions of Tikal. A similar situation holds true for the profitable study of other Maya hieroglyphic texts or fragments, namely, that the analytical manipulation of glyphic texts painted on pottery or in codices should be based on photographs and/or drawings that best replicate all features of the originals.
One of the aims of the Center for Maya Research is to help maintain high standards in the general field of the investigation of Maya writing and art. It is this goal that impels us to keep up a critical awareness, not only of the scientific rigor with which epigraphic and iconographic interpretations are produced, but also of the quality of the raw material used for such study. It is the latter subject that I wish to address in this brief essay, specifically with respect to the drawings of Maya hieroglyphs that appear in the unique surviving manuscript of Bishop Diego de Landa's Relación de las cosas de Yucatán, and the versions of those illustrations which appear in publications of the same work.
As Tozzer (1941:viii), Pagden (1975:18), and other writers on the subject have explained, the manuscript of Landa's Relación in the Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid, is apparently an abstract derived from a longer original, the fate of which is unknown. It consists of 66 leaves written on both sides in three scribal hands, plus a map. The work is bound in flawed sequence in what is apparently an 18th century cover, and measures 21 by 14.5cm [page size] (Fig. 1).
Until the original work of Bishop Diego de Landa comes to light -and all searches for it have so far been in vain- the manuscript in Madrid is the primary copy of our most important single source on Yucatecan Maya culture of the Early Colonial Period. Indeed, without the data set down by Landa, our progress in Maya (and Mesoamerican) studies would have been severely hampered. For this reason alone, the issue of accurate reproduction is critical to anyone using the text and illustrations of the anonymous abstract of the Landa work.
The story of the finding of the Landa manuscript and the history of its publication has been summarized by Tozzer (1941), Pagden (1975), and others. In 1863-nearly three centuries after the time of the compilation of its basic content-the precious document was encountered
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among the archival treasures of the Real Academia de La Historia by the Abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg, the tireless French cleric who had already brought to light numerous other primary sources of American ethnohistory and culture. Brasseur published most of the manuscript, with a French translation, the following year. In the 124 years that have passed since the appearance of that editio princeps, there have been eleven subsequent editions of Landa's Relación.
As may be seen in the accompanying tabulation, the 12 editions of Landa vary greatly. Among them, eight are in the Spanish of the original (two of them accompanying a parallel translation), but with differing fidelity to the orthography of the manuscript: three are in English, two in French, and one in Russian. All but three editions provide the complete text, but only five have the complete sets of glyph drawings found in the original-and two of those editions are derivative. In addition to these inconsistencies, one is faced with the matter of availability. The edition of Brasseur de Bourbourg (1864) is of superlative rarity, as is the second edition, by Rada y Delgado (1884), and the hand-colored, limited edition of Gates (1937), although a less-rare "trade edition" of the latter appeared the same year. The Genet version (1928-29) is increasingly difficult to find, as are the editions of Rosado Escalante and Ontiveros (1938), Pérez Martínez (1938), and Tozzer (1941). Only the editions of Garibay (1959, etc.), Pagden (1975), and the Ediciones Dante imprint of 1983 (essentially a scaled down reissue of the Pérez Martínez edition just cited) are relatively easy to obtain.
Edition Language(s) Text Illustrations Brasseur de Bourbourg 1864 Spanish-French INCOMPLETE COMPLETE Rada y Delgado 1884 Spanish COMPLETE COMPLETE Relaciones de Yucatan 1900 Spanish INCOMPLETE INCOMPLETE Genet 1928-29 Spanish-French INCOMPLETE INCOMPLETE Gates 1937 English COMPLETE INCOMPLETE Rosado Escalante & Ontiveros 1938 Spanish COMPLETE INCOMPLETE Pérez Martinez 1938 Spanish COMPLETE COMPLETE Tozzer 1941 English COMPLETE INCOMPLETE Knorozov 1955 Russian COMPLETE INCOMPLETE Garibay 1959 Spanish COMPLETE COMPLETE Pagden 1975 English COMPLETE INCOMPLETE Ediciones Dante 1983 Spanish COMPLETE COMPLETE
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For a serious student of the Maya, the tangled bibliographic history of the Landa narrative and its illustrations results in a dilemma of the first order. And if one is seeking the information in English, the problem becomes even more acute. Virtually all the editions from that of Genet onward have, to varying extents, re-arranged the textual material or the sequence of the calendrical glyphs, often adding "chapter" headings; always using second-generation renderings of most of the glyphs; and, more often than not, editing the number of drawings. In short, none of the existing editions of Landa's Relación fulfills all the needs of the scholar seeking the total content of the original manuscript.
It is with regard to the hieroglyphs in the Landa manuscript that all editions fall short of accurate reproduction to one degree or another. This problem is less acute in the case of the "alphabet" on folio 45 of the original manuscript, for certain editions (i.e., Genet [1928-29] and Gates ) simply reproduce that page, or a detail of it. However, in the case of the "kalendario romano, y yucatanense" that runs from folios 34 to 43v of the original, the replication of the day and month signs has been substandard. In the original, one finds a complete chain of successive sets of the 20 day signs (of the 260-day Sacred Round), punctuated by the renderings of 18 of the 19 hieroglyphs-that of Uayeb is lacking-of the months (of the 365-day Vague Year). As noted above, those publishers of Landa who have taken the trouble to render this cycle in its entirety have presented only fair copies of the whole (i.e., Brasseur de Bourbourg ; Rada y Delgado ). In the case of the drawings which appear in the Pérez Martínez version and its derivatives, one 20-day set was chosen, apparently at random (from folios 35 and 35v), and simply reproduced 18 times. The overall result is obvious: The drawings of the calendrical glyphs in every published edition of Landa's work reflect neither the precise character nor the configuration of the originals.
The hieroglyphs for the months Pop and Cumku provide an adequate sample for the demonstration of this point. Figure 2 shows the drawings of those two month glyphs as they appear in the manuscript (far left) and in all of the published editions of Landa's Relación. The illustration is self-explanatory, and it might be safely noted that a complete sampling of all the month glyphs as they appear across the spectrum of the literature (not to mention the signs in the famed "alphabet" or the incidental glyphic illustrations in other parts of the manuscript) would yield a like number of discrepancies.
In this brief and somewhat oversimplified survey of the history of Landa's Relación de las cosas de Yucatan in its many published versions, I have tried to show that none suffice to completely replicate the unique manuscript upon which they are based. My major point has
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been that the discrepancies rest mainly in the drawings of the hieroglyphs, as demonstrated by the specific examples of the hieroglyphs for the months Pop and Cumku. I would hazard a speculation that had there been accurate representations of the original renderings of Landa's Cumku glyph in the available literature, the identification of the small head at its lower left as God C would have been made earlier. But adding still another "what if" to the anecdotal history of Maya hieroglyphic research is somewhat less than productive. I will therefore end by cautioning all epigraphists to make every effort to base their analyses on primary source material-particularly when wandering the wondrous world of Diego de Landa's Yucatan.
IN KEEPING WITH THE THEME SET FORTH ABOVE, it is appropriate to note that the Center for Maya Research has received permission from the Real Academia de la Historia in Madrid to publish a facsimile of the unique manuscript of the Landa work in the archives of that venerable institution. The task is now in the planning stage and funds will be sought so that it can be completed by the end of 1989. The Center for Maya Research is grateful to the Royal Academy of History and the Commission of the Indies for this act of October 3, 1988. The Center also takes pride in having this unusual opportunity to make an important contribution to the scholarly literature devoted to the Maya and to Yucatán. George Stuart
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A LANDA BIBLIOGRAPHY
Rada y Delgado 1884
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Relaciones de Yucatan 1900
Gates William 1937
Rosado Escalante and Ontiveros 1938
Pérez Martinez 1938
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8vo. [9" x 6.5"], 411 pp. Completed September 1938. The Landa text [pp 53-267] is followed by ten documents, several other useful pieces, and an extensive index. Text, drawings, and maps complete, but the glyph drawings in the calendar section are repeating sets of the same images rather than the different renderings in the manuscript. Despite this minor shortcoming, this edition is excellent. The drawings made for it were used in the subsequent editions of Garibay (1959), Pagden (1975), and, of course, the Ediciones Dante version (1983), which is based on the present version.
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Ediciones Dante 1983