Rabinal Achi: A Fifteenth Century Maya Dynastic Drama

Overview

The Rabinal Achi, one of the most remarkable works of Mayan literature, dates back to the 1400s. In 2005, UNESCO declared Rabinal Achi to be a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. This drama is still performed with a ritual dance in the village of Rabinal (Baja Verapaz).

The drama is set in the Guatemalan highlands in the second half of the fifteenth century. In an exemplary trial that takes place in Kajyub, the capital of the Rabinaleb at that time, a ...

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Overview

The Rabinal Achi, one of the most remarkable works of Mayan literature, dates back to the 1400s. In 2005, UNESCO declared Rabinal Achi to be a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. This drama is still performed with a ritual dance in the village of Rabinal (Baja Verapaz).

The drama is set in the Guatemalan highlands in the second half of the fifteenth century. In an exemplary trial that takes place in Kajyub, the capital of the Rabinaleb at that time, a captured enemy warrior (K'iche Achi) appears before the royal court. A series of combative dialogues pits the offending warrior against the local warrior (Rabinal Achi) and the king (Job Toj), reconstructing the deeds of those involved and retracing the antagonistic history of these two Mayan groups, the Quiche and the Rabinaleb. Alain Breton approaches the text from an anthropological and ethnographical perspective, demonstrating that this indigenous text reenacts pre-Columbian historic paradigms. Breton's work is based on the Perez Manuscript (1913), a facsimile of which is included in its entirety. Breton translated into French an entirely new transcription of the original text, and Teresa Lavender Fagan and Robert Schneider translated the text into English. Both the transcription and the translation are accompanied by detailed commentary and a glossary.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“This edition should take its rightful place as the standard translation of this important text for many years to come. Just as Brenton learned to love and appreciate the text as one of the few precious fragments of a once thriving tradition of Maya dance-dramas, this new translation helps us to appreciate, albeit as outsiders, a people's cherished cultural heritage."
—Allen J. Christenson, The Americas

"Breton's study is well-organized, meticulously researched, clearly and compellingly written, and as a research tool it is extremely easy to use. The book is an accessible, meticulously documented translation and stimulating interpretation of an unsurpassed source on the pre-Hispanic Quiché Maya. Mesoamerican scholars from a range of disiciplines will study and cite this monograph for generations to come."
Jennifer von Schwerin, Journal of Anthropological Research

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870818752
  • Publisher: Univeristy Press of Colorado
  • Publication date: 9/30/2007
  • Series: Mesoamerican Worlds Series
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Alain Breton is Research Director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France. He is the author or co-author of fifteen books.
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Table of Contents


Foreword   Robert M. Carmack     ix
Preface     xiii
Acknowledgments     xvii
Introduction     1
A Unique Text     2
An Exceptional Destiny     7
History of a Discovery     7
Earlier Editions and Publications     11
The Perez Manuscript     13
Conflicts between the Rabinaleb and the Quiche     19
The Historical Context     19
The Trial     26
The Protagonists     27
An Agonistic Joust     42
The Current State of the Text     47
The Present Edition     48
Regarding the Transcription     51
Regarding the Translation     53
Regarding the Presentation     53
The Perez Manuscript     55
The Text: Transcription and Translation     123
Analysis: An Exemplary History     279
Return to the Places: Spaces and Journeys     280
Spatial Perspective     281
Temporal Perspective     286
Historical Perspective     290
Return to the Actors: Figures of the Warrior and the King     292
The Figure of the Warrior     293
TheFigure of the King     297
Supremacy of One Figure over the Other     300
Return to Events     302
A Disputed Territory     302
An Impossible Alliance     306
The War: A Metaphor for the Hunt     308
Return to the Text: Epilogue     314
Glossary     319
References     373
Index     387
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