Mayans Essay

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Maya mythology features two brothers, Hun Batz and Hun Chuen, who angered the Hero Twins long ago and were transformed into monkeys. These brothers came to be known as the "monkey scribes," and they were the patrons of Maya art and writing--the skills involved in telling the Maya's story. In the ancient Mayan language, there was no distinction between writing and painting; the word ts' ib was used for both. The Maya scribes created writing and artwork on surfaces all over their cities, particularly in the Classic era from 250 to 900 C.E. Some inscribed the stone pillar monuments--called stelae--in the plazas, door lintels, stone or stucco buildings and pyramids, thrones, altars, and even jade jewelry; the painterscribes worked on wall murals and pottery; those who used a pen worked in handmade books known as codices. Glyph-writing was almost always accompanied by pictures that added to the meaning of the words. Maya scribes were members of the noble classes and were treated with great respect. According to Michael Coe and Mark Van Stone in their book Reading the Maya Glyphs (2001), they did more than create art and writing--Maya scribes probably played a role in society similar to priests, and many may have actually been priests. Priests were responsible for many scholarly activities: observing the stars and planets, creating the calendar systems used by the Mayas for timing religious rituals, seeing into the future, and recording Maya history. All of these functions involved the writing and painting done by scribes. Scribes and priests formed an elite and educated group who were gifted thinkers, writers, and artists. The scribes were given a good deal of creative leeway and were encouraged to excel in their fields by the ruling class. In the end, however, the purpose of their work was to glorify the Maya gods and kings. It was in the realm of these elite Maya

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