(May 3, 2009) Unesco recently created the World digital Library (www.wdl.org) to make culturally significant materials from all over the world available via the Internet. Among the a little more than one thousand items is a manuscript on the Maya that supposedly dates to 1548 (www.wdl.org/en/item/2961). The manuscript is referred to under the given title "El modo de cómo hacían la pintura los indígenas" ("How the Indians Did Their Paintings"). The text contains drawings of Maya numbers, time periods, and supernatural beings. A close look makes it clear that this manuscript is a fake that belongs to the Canek group of fake manuscripts (see Hanns Prem's article in Ancient Mesoamerica [Prem 1999]). A detailed analysis of this forgery is in preparation. The handwriting of the Pintura manuscript is identical to the one in other forged documents of the Canek group and its drawings copy illustrations from Sylvanus Morley's The Ancient Maya and the Madrid Codex.
The inclusion of this forged manuscript in the World Digital Library undermines the goal of the library to make "available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world" (www.wdl.org/en/about). A forgery nurtures instead cultural misunderstanding, and it misleads the general public.