Alphonse Pinart

Alphonse Pinart (1852 – 1911) ambled through adolescence without direction until he met Charles Étienne Brasseur de Bourbourg at the 1867 World Fair in Paris. He was inspired to pursue a career in ethnology, though not in the same line as Brasseur. Whereas Brasseur keenly focused on Central American ethnohistory, Pinart preferred the languages of the Pacific ocean, from North America to the Indonesian islands.more ›

Adrián Recinos

Adrián Recinos (1886 – 1962) was born July 1886 in Antigua, Guatemala to a notable family of Huehuetenango. He graduated from the Instituto Nacional Central de Varones in 1902 and subsequently earned a law degree from the Facultad de Ciencias Jurídicas y Sociales at the Universidad de Guatemala in 1907. Recinos entered politics the following year more ›

Maya v. Mayan

Tikal Central Complex Temple II‘Maya’ and ‘Mayan’ are not preferential use cases and have very different contexts. To most English speakers, “Mayan” sounds correct (perhaps because it sounds similar to other identifiers of nationality and ethnicity like American, African, Mexican, Guatemalan, Honduran, etc.), but it is almost always used incorrectly.more ›

Alphonse Pinart’s Occupation

Alphonse Pinart was never a book dealer. There is not much internet information on Alphonse Pinart, but the biography composed by Ross Parmenter documents that Alphonse Pinart was an ethnolinguistmore ›

Popol Vuh’s Title

Empiezan las historias del origen de los indíos de esta provinçia de Gvatemala tradvzido de la lengva Qviche en la castellana para mas commodidad de los minístros de El Sto EvangelíoPopol Vuh is not an original title. Ayer ms 1515 (which is the oldest surviving source text) does not have an actual title and its heading merely says “las historias del origen de los indios.”more ›

Juan Gavarrete’s Copyscript

Juan Gavarrete’s copyscript is not lost. As the photo below shows,, Jack Himelblau (1989) and Munro Edmonson (1973) lept to incorrect conclusions. more ›

Ayer Manuscript Composition

Ayer ms 1515 was likely bound in Guatemala. Giselle Simon, former Director of Conservation Services at the Newberry Library, considers the binding technique consistent with nineteenth-century work, albeit a relatively “crude binding” which “the Newberry would not have bound.” more ›

Carl Scherzer’s Occupation

Carl Scherzer was never a physician. At least one source suggests that Scherzer was a lawyer, but his only documented employment was as a printer and as a statesman. The misconception that Scherzer was a physician flows from Scherzer’s self-assumed honorific in his 1857 edition of Popol Vuh and possibly began with Recinos’ 1947 Spanish edition and his 1950 English translation.more ›

Marginalia Theory

In their introduction to Ma(r)king the Text: The presentation of meaning on the literary page, Joe Bray, Miriam Handley, and Anne C. Henry point out that “to mark a text is also to make it; [and] features such as punctuation, footnotes, epigraphs, white space and marginalia, marks that traditionally have been ignored in literary criticism, can be examined for their contribution to a text’s meaning” (xvii).more ›

Popol Vuh

Fresco depicting scene from Popol VuhPopol Vuh is a religious narrative of the Central American Maya indians. Stated more precisely, Popol Vuh is a periconquest oral mythistory (myth + history)  of the highland Quiché (K’iche’) Maya. The mythic component comprehends a creation story, a diluvian suggestion, and epic tales of anthropomorphic ancestors. The myth transitions into history through its tale of an eastward ancestral migration to observe the first dawn through which the sojourners acquire fire and evolve distinct languages, tribes, and clans. We are told how the Quichean tribes arrived in the western highlands and there is an anecdotal account of how the Quiché rise to prominence over their Cakchiquel and Tzutuhil relatives. Popol Vuh also describes a society that, anthropologically speaking, seems to depict settlement and intertribal conflict of the terminal late classic period (roughly AD 790 to 1000). Popol Vuh concludes with regnal genealogies leading to the time of the Spanish conquest (AD 1524). Ontologically speaking, Popol Vuh exists as a product of exponential supposition and as a consequence there are really two distinguishable conceptual and physical Popol Vuh entities.more ›