Rabinal achi: a fifteenth-century Maya dynastic drama
The Rabinal Achi, one of the most remarkable works of Mayan literature, dates back to the 1400s. The drama is set in the Guatemalan highlands in the second half of the fifteenth century. In an exemplary trial that takes place in Kajyub, the capital of the Rabinaleb at that time, a captured enemy warrior (Quiché Achi) appears before the royal court. A series of combative dialogues pits the offending warrior against the local warrior (Rabinal Achi) and the king (Job Toj), reconstructing the deeds of those involved and retracing the antagonistic history of these two Mayan groups, the Quiché and the Rabinaleb. Alain Breton approaches the text from an anthropological and ethnographical perspective, demonstrating that this indigenous text reenacts pre-Columbian historic paradigms. Breton translated into French an entirely new transcription of the original text, and Teresa Lavender Fagan and Robert Schneider translated the text into English. Both the transcription and the translation are accompanied by detailed commentary and a glossary.
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Analysis An Exemplary History
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Achi speaks Achi's ajaw ajaw o}job Angel fol angry arbol Balam Balam K'iche Bartolo Sis Basseta fol Brasseur cacao Cakchiquel Chajul chi-r-ech chic chik chila Coloch Coto Cubulco dictionaries facing the earth facing the sky fortress Guatemala hombre Ixoq j(u)yub k'ajol k'u ri nu-tzij ka-0-cha k'u ri Kajyub keje k'ut King Job labal mano Mesoamerica mountains Nahuatl navel Popol Vuh pueblo Quiche r-al r-uk r-umal Rabinal Achi Rabinaleb ri nu-tzij ch(i ri tzij ruido Saquic Calel Sequence significa sky facing tambien taq'aj term tierra tinamit Tirado fol toponym Torresano fol translation Tres Cruces tz'aq u-nim-al k'oxtun Tzam Tzamaneb tzih u-chi u-nim-al tz'aq u-nim-al u-pam u-nim-al tz'aq u-wach kaj ch(i u-wach ulew u-xmut kaj ch(i u-xmut ulew ul-oq ulew chi-k'oji usan Uxab Poq'omab vach valleys Varea fol verb Vico n.d.a vinak w-ajaw-al nu-winaq-il waral ch(i warrior white children winaq word facing xa wi Ximenez