Dresden Codex
  1. Dresden Codex, leaves 27-30 (from Compendio Xcaret)

    At the height of their civilization, the Maya had developed exceptionally advanced mathematical systems, achieving the use of the zero and place notation. Their knowledge of mathematics was tied directly to their sophisticated calendric and astronomical systems, which in turn were inextricably linked to the Maya religion. Exhibiting the finest quality of draftsmanship of all the Maya códices, the Dresden is the major source supporting the Maya reputation as skilled astronomers. It contains astronomical calculations, tables, and data that are remarkably accurate. The Dresden depicts a number of rituals and gods and documents aspects of daily life such as agriculture. The leaves displayed are part of the tables documenting the astronomical movements of the Great Star (Venus) and the first page of the lunar cycle tables (page at far right). Much of the damage evident in this facsimile occurred during the bombardment of Dresden during World War II.

Paris Codex
  1. Paris Codex, leaves 21-22 (from Compendio Xcaret)

    The Paris Codex is a fragment of a larger manuscript and is in very poor condition. It contains almanacs, calendar counts, constellation tables, and depictions of the spirit world as it relates to the terrestrial world. In this rendition of the spirit world, the four seated figures at the top of leaf 22 are Pauahtuns, associated with the four world directions, the rains and winds. Just below them are two death deities, identified in part by their "death-eyes" collars. Between the two groups a skyband indicates the division of their positions in the heavens and on earth. These two realms are separate, but they are shown to be part of a unified whole by the green skyropes that twist and weave among the figures.

  1. Madrid Codex, leaves 13-16

    The Madrid Codex was originally identified as two separate manuscripts of unequal lengths called the Manuscrit Troano and the Codex Cortesianus. The two parts were identified as elements of one codex and were reunited in 1892. The original Madrid Codex is now housed in the Museo de América in Madrid and is sometimes referred to as the Codex Tro-Cortesianus. The leaves displayed show a portion of the almanac section used by priests to perform divination rites relating to essential daily activities such as hunting, weaving, and agriculture. The four horizontal rows in the lower half of each panel are composed of the glyphs of the 20 named days which, as in the Aztec calendar, cycle 13 times through the 260-day Sacred Year.

    Sky serpents who send the rain and speak in thunder are shown weaving around the rows of glyphs. Circles with a cross-hatch design drawn on the bodies of the serpents symbolize Chicchan, the 5th of the 20 named days, perhaps associating that named day with the rain gods or rain ceremonies. In leaf 16 a death god is depicted wearing his characteristic "death eyes" in a collar, as well as at his wrists and ankles. The glyph just above and to the right of his head is the symbol for both death and the sixth named day, Cimi. On this leaf a Cimi day-glyph is the third glyph down in the second column from the right. If a priest reading the codex for divination purposes arrived at this symbol, it was considered an ill omen of death or illness.

    Just above the Cimi glyph is the symbol for Imix (the 1st of the 20 named days), an auspicious sign of abundance when reading portents. Above and to the right of the death god, resting on the red horizontal line, is the maize god. He holds in his hand the sign of Kan (symbolizing both maize and the 4th day), on top of which appears the Imix glyph. In leaf 17 two rain gods, called Chacs (one is upside down), are above the rows of glyphs.

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