Image - Cacao Pod Vessel - K6706 © Justin Kerr FAMSI © 2000:
Kerry Hull

Cosmological and Ritual Language in Ch’orti’
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Figure 1. Image K5359 - Photograph © Justin Kerr.

Research Year:  2000
Culture:  Ch’orti’ Maya
Chronology:  Classic
Location:  Jocotán, Guatemala
Sites:  Various

Table of Contents

Cosmological Data
The Moon
The Relationship of the Moon to Rainy Season
Spirits and Souls
Ritual Language in Healing Rites
Ritual Language and Ritual
Terms Relating to Ritual
Ch’orti’ and Hieroglyphic Studies
Sources Cited


The Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. (FAMSI) provided the monetary support for me to undertake three months of linguistic fieldwork among the Ch’orti’ Maya in southern Guatemala from May to August 2000.  One of the primary goals of the project was to document the surviving cosmological and ritual language still in use among the Ch’orti’.  I attended and recorded as many rituals as I was able to and then transcribed and translated each text. These texts then served as the basis for discussions with numerous consultants to determine which lexical items made up part of their daily vocabulary and which were used in these ceremonial contexts. Many weeks were also spent in direct elicitation of select vocabulary which I felt related to ritual or cosmological matters.

The second aim of this project was to attempt to illuminate some of the readings in the hieroglyphic script through Ch’orti’.  To do this, I compiled a list of all the phonetically transparent readings in the corpus of inscriptions. This list was then used (after making minor phonological changes appropriate to present-day Ch’orti’) in questioning four Ch’orti’ elders from different hamlets near Jocotán, Guatemala about each lexical item and what words could be formed from each lexical root.

The following are selections of data from this research project relating to Ch’orti’ ritual and cosmological language and the hieroglyphic script.

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Cosmological and Ritual Language in Ch’orti’  (289 KB)

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Submitted 11/01/2000 by:

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