The Flayed God: The Mesoamerican Mythological Tradition : Sacred Texts and Images from Pre-Columbian Mexico and Central America

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HarperSanFrancisco, 1992 - Aztec mythology - 456 pages
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Roberta and Peter Markman take us into a fierce and breathtakingly wondrous world of were-jaguars, obsidian butterflies, feathered serpents, snake women, and living skeletons - the world of the Popol Vuh of the Quiche Maya; Tlaltecuhtli, the Earth Monster; Chichen Itza; and the mysterious fall of the great city of Teotihuacan. This stunning collection of original tales, legends, and historical accounts explores the rich tapestry of Mesoamerican narrative myths that have survived the Conquest. Some of the narratives in this selection are presented here for the first time in English translations of their original texts, while other antiquated translations have been updated. "We are fortunate to be able to present what remains of one of the world's great mythological traditions", write the Markmans, "and even in these 'fragments shored against the ruins' we can still sense the magnificence of that tradition". From the ancient goddess of Zohalpico, perhaps the earliest known image of the village cultures, The Flayed God chronologically traces the development of the myths of creation, fertility, rulership, hero journeys, and migration within the urban mythic traditions of the Olmec, Toltec, Maya, Mixtec, and Aztec cultures. Richly illustrated throughout with the strange and compelling imagery of the original codices, stelae, friezes, murals, figurines, masks, and statues, The Flayed God is among the most coherent and eminently readable volumes to date on the Mesoamerican experience. The flayed god of the title is Xipe Totec, "the metaphoric embodiment of the cyclical pattern of all life, a pattern promising the rebirth of man and man's sustenance, the corn, but requiring sacrificial deathfor the accomplishment of that rebirth". He is depicted with his face covered by a mask made from the taut skin of a sacrificial victim, a mask through which we can see the wearer's own living eyes and mouth, and he also wears the skin of the flayed one as a garment. In the ritual to this god, the priest donned the skin of the victim, "representing in this sense the dead covering of the earth in the dry season of winter before the new vegetation bursts forth in spring". In The Flayed God, the Markmans have created a unique and dynamic synthesis of Mesoamerican history, folklore, mythology, and cosmology. This work is a landmark in the field of Mesoamerican scholarship, informed by a poetic vision and passion for the richness and brilliance of "all the strange and exalted creatures that populate the profoundly metaphoric tales and images of this incredibly rich tradition".

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The flayed God: the mesoamerican mythological tradition: sacred texts and images from pre-Columbian Mexico and Central America

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This marvelous collection of sacred texts and images from pre-Columbian Central American culture is well presented and carefully introduced, providing a wealth of material on goddess images in village ... Read full review


The Mythic Images
The First Figurine The Goddess of Zohapilco

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About the author (1992)

Markman is Professor Emeritus at California State University in Long Beach, California.

Markham is Professor Emeritus at Fullerton College and Adjunct Professor at California State University.

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