Mayan afterlife beliefs

God A Stinks
November 29, 2018 – 12:21 pm
Mayan Afterlife Related

The earliest Maya poetry is etched on a jade plaque along with the date 3483; "For those of us who come from within the world of letters that was 320 A.D., before there was any such thing as English literature" (Tedlock 258).

The scribes of the Maya documented the history, rituals, and beliefs of their people by creating multimodal texts on stone, ceramic, stucco, and paper. The stunning imagery which survived the ravages of the tropical climate began to come to light in the mid-nineteenth century with archaeological expeditions following in the early twentieth century. Maya textual forms of communication were strongly visual; the pictographic and chirographic images helped to create texts accessible to both the literate and illiterate Maya. Each of the aesthetic media chosen by the Maya artisans allowed the visual rhetoric of the imagetexts—defined by W.J.T. Mitchell as dialectical images with pictures and words in tandem (9)—to convey aspects of the Maya worldview. Through the efforts of many Mayanists, the specific meanings of these texts are coming to light (Coe). Contemporary scholars are able to analyze the imagery and have discerned commonalities with modern pictorial narratives.

Maya narrative imagetexts have been analyzed by comic scholars, and in his influential Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (1993) Scott McCloud proposes that pre-Columbian Maya screenfold codices were the first comics (10). More recent scholarship by Jesper Nielsen and Søren Wichmann suggests sequential art originated even earlier during the Late Classic Period (600-900 AD) where "sequential text-image pairings" appear on ceramics, stone, and stucco (60). Aaron Meskin disagrees, however, viewing the inclusion of Maya narrative imagery in the category of comics as "perverse" and excluding all early forms of sequential art from consideration as comics (373). Defining the term "comics" is problematic and critics now use terms such as "proto-comics" to describe early forms of sequential art (Witek 149). Regardless of whether some theorists consider Maya imagetexts as "comics" or "proto-comics, " there is evidence that the Maya in Mesoamerica used graphic elements in their narrative imagery to convey sensory stimuli.

McCloud describes comics as a "mono-sensory medium" as it only allows vision to address the other senses (89). Comics artists use the concept of synesthesia to convey taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound through visual cues. Conventional comics evolved to use standardized symbolism such as action lines to show movement, or bubbles to show speech or other sounds. Additionally, comic strips—like film—use montage to arrange images so they can indicate movement and time (Lacassin 14-15). When a reader mentally processes the montage of the comic strip, the embedded synesthetic imagery triggers a connection between the visual and the reader's other senses. Karl Young describes these external visual stimuli as being "mirrored by an inner speech, inner sight, and inner sound" (25). Janis Nuckolls, Jorge Salgueiro, and others have analyzed synesthesia in contemporary comics, but they, as most scholars, base their studies on the more commonsense imagery such as sound.

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