Rabinal Achi: A Mayan Drama of War and Sacrifice

Front Cover
Dennis Tedlock
Taylor & Francis, Sep 4, 2003 - History - 361 pages
Here is one of the most important surviving works of pre-Columbian civilization, Rabinal Achi, a Mayan drama set a century before the arrival of the Spanish, produced by the translator of the best selling Popol Vuh.The first direct translation into English from Quiche Maya, based on the original text, Rabinal Achi is the story of city-states, war, and nobility, of diplomacy, mysticism, and psychic journeys. Cawek of the Forest People has been captured by Man of Rabinal, who serves a ruler named Lord Five Thunder. Cawek is a renegade, a warrior who has inflicted much suffering on Rabinal. Yet he is also the son of the lord of the allied city of Quiche--a noble who once fought alongside Man of Rabinal. The drama presents the confrontation between the two during the trial of Cawek, who defies his captors and proudly accepts death by beheading. Dennis Tedlock's translation is clear and vivid; more than that, it is rooted in an understanding of how the play is actually performed. Despite being banned for centuries by Spanish authorities, it survived in actual practice, and is still performed in the town of Rabinal today. Tedlock's photographs and diagrams accompany the text, capturing nuances not apparent in the dialogue alone. He also provides an introduction and commentary that explain the historical events compressed into the play, the Spanish influence on the Mayan dramatic tradition, and the cultural and religious world preserved in this remarkable play.Rabinal Achi ranks as a classic of Mayan literature--and a rare window on a world that had yet to be invaded by Europeans. Dennis Tedlock brings this drama to life in all its richness.
 

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Contents

Man of Rabinal and Cawek of the Forest People
3
Eagle and Jaguar
11
Lord Five Thunder Mother of Quetzal Feathers and Slave
12
View of the town of Rabinal
13
A restored view of the main plaza at Red Mountain
15
Rabinal Achi or Dance of the Trumpets
21
The cast walks the road to a confraternity house
24
Cawek leads a dance around the perimeter of the stage
26
Carvings carried by Eagle and Jaguar
142
Jaguar and Eagle dancers at Cacaxda
143
Aztec gladiatorial combat
144
The Lord of Death with a severed head
145
A prisoner with his name written on his thigh
146
The skull and leg bones of Lady Twelve Macaw
147
Earth monster wearing the emblem of Yaxchilan
148
Effigies of severed heads worn upsidedown
149

Cawek and Rabinal in a standstill
28
Eagle and Jaguar define the boundaries of the stage
30
Rabinal and Cawek in dialogue
32
Man of Rabinal at a night performance
53
Cawek ofthc Forest People
64
Lord Five Thunder and the Mother of Quetzal Feathers
80
Cawek kneels before Lord Five Thunder
93
Cawek speaks to Lord Five Thunder
98
Cawek drinks to the west
103
Cawek holds up the calabash
104
Cawek wearing the borrowed apron dances with Slave
109
Slave presents Mother of Quetzal Feathers to Cawek
114
Cawek delivers his soliloquy
120
Cawek kneels to have his head cut off
123
Mayan History Onstage and Behind the Scenes
125
Yellow Monkey Lord takes a prisoner
126
Yellow Monkey Lord presents his prisoner
128
Red Monkey Man presents prisoners to Shield Jaguar
129
Warriors in an eighthcentury battle scene
130
Man of Rabinal and a lord from Palenque
131
Lord Five Thunder and a lord from Chichn Itza
132
The god of the manikin scepter and a shield
133
Lords of Yaxchilan dance with scepters and shields
134
Jaguar Lord of the Sky wearing a nosepiece
136
The Mixtec lord Eight Deer has his nose pierced
137
Four lords wearing nosepieces
138
A Mixtec priest wears a gourd of tobacco
139
Dancers in jaguar roles carrying backpacks
140
Backpacks of Holmul dancers
141
Ears of corn as heads and a head as an ear of corn
150
Cawek of the play and an ancient lord wearing aprons
151
A family tree growing from the founders thigh
152
Cawek of the Forest People contemplates a calabash
153
Twin heroes perform a decapitation in the underworld
155
Glyph blocks incorporating the sign for the slit drum
158
Musical instruments at Bonampak
159
Musical instruments for Rabinal Achi
160
THREE
161
The chorus at Bonampak
162
Dancing feet at Yaxchilan and Rabinal
163
Dancing couples in Rabinal Achi and an ancient painting
164
The assassination of Twelve Motion in his bathhouse
179
Under Spanish Rule
187
Scripts and Voices
207
Page 26 of the Brasseur script
214
Page 5 of the Perez script
215
Blank spaces in the Brasseur and Perez scripts
216
The number 116 in the Brasseur and Peez scripts
218
The mask of Cawek of the Forest People
225
Jose Le6n Coloch examines the Peez script
227
The Play Enacted
241
Marii Xolop costumes the Mother of Quetzal Feathers
242
Masks on the altar of St Sebastian
243
The backpack of Jaguar under construction
245
Cawek follows a spiral path to stage center
271
Notes
273
Glossary
341
Copyright

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About the author (2003)


Dennis Tedlock is Distinguished Professor of English and Anthropology at the State University of New York, Buffalo, where he is also co-director of the Center for the Americas. A linguist, literary scholar, and poet, he won the PEN Translation Prize for Popol Vuh, as well as the Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing.

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