Ritualized Discourse in the Mesoamerican Codices: An Inquiry into Epigraphic Practice

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Ritualized Discourse in the Mesoamerican Codices: An Inquiry into Epigraphic Practice

Type: Research master thesis
Title: Ritualized Discourse in the Mesoamerican Codices: An Inquiry into Epigraphic Practice
Author: Davis, Caitlin Reddington
Issue Date: 2016-01-29
Keywords: PostClassic
Epigraphy
Mesoamerica
Maya
Mixtec
Nahua
Codices
Comparative
Postcolonial
Writing systems
Abstract: Despite the fact that the PostClassic Mesoamerican codices display a striking amount of similarity, academic studies of the discipline typically separate the Central Mexican and Mixtec manuscripts from those of the Maya, with the Maya receiving an epigraphic approach and the Mexican and Mixtec receiving an art historical approach. Many of these studies implicitly privilege phonetic writing systems, taking an evolutionary view of writing which devalues the pictographic. This privileging of the phonetic speaks to the more extensive devaluation of indigenous beliefs and practices on a wider scale. This thesis seeks to bridge the gap between the art historical and epigraphic by understanding the codices as products of the communities in which they were created, and thus fulfilling culturally-specific needs. Ritualized Discourse in the Mesoamerican Codices: An Inquiry into Epigraphic Practice accomplishes this through two case studies, one of which is based on the representation of the same subject matter, bloodletting, and one of which is based on the representation of the same linguistic practice, difrasismo. The results of the analysis indicate that while on a visual level the codices appear very different, on a phonological level there are many similarities in how they represent linguistic and phonetic elements. The Central Mexican and Maya codices in particular display a high degree of overlap, speaking to their shared scribal traditions. Approaching the codices as inventions designed to fulfill a purpose, interpretations of iconographic and phonetic elements are reached which speak to a pan-Mesoamerican experience of writing and highlight the benefits of alternative traditions of knowledge.
Supervisor: Jansen, Maarten E.R.G.N.
Faculty: Faculty of Archaeology
Department: Archaeology (Research master)
Specialisation: Religion and Society in Native American Cultures
ECTS Credits: 35
Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/38165
 

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