The Chocholá style piece is engraved with hieroglyphic text attributed to the Oxkintok area
Merida, Yucatan, (September 14, 2021).- During the archaeological salvage work that the Ministry of Culture of the Government of Mexico, through the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), carries out as part of the works of the Maya Train, in Yucatan an engraved Chocholá-style vessel was recovered with a hieroglyphic text, whose type dates from the end of the Early Classic period to the Late Classic period (600 and 800 AD), attributed to the Oxkintok area, a region that has been proposed as the area of production of this style of pieces.
It is a type of vessel with a wide presence in the north of Yucatan, but the majority of which comes from private collections as a product of looting and illicit trade, without knowing the archaeological cultural context of origin, hence the relevance of this piece recovered as part of an investigation.
The Chocholá vessels are characterized by presenting hieroglyphic text, although they may or may not present iconographic scenes. In general, the writing in those that do carry it deals with a Standard Primary Sequence or dedicatory phrase, which describes the object, mentions the owner (sometimes the titles it held are placed), and the possible content.
The Chocholá style of vessels was named this way by the American archaeologist and epigraphist Michel D. Coe, in his book The Maya scribe and his world, because most of the pieces presented in this catalog had been acquired in the Chocholá area, by collectors, since then it has been named in such a way.
The foregoing was reported by archaeologist Ricardo Abraham Mateo Canul, a member of the archaeological salvage team of the Maya Train Project, who carries out the epigraphic analysis of the vessel and details that, according to the specialists who have studied the region, there are few vessels with these characteristics that have been recovered in their original context, as part of the mortuary furnishings.
It should be noted, he adds, that this type of piece has also been found as part of garbage dumps in higher-ranking sites, as well as in construction landfills, even in lower-ranking sites, “which encourages a broader discussion about its meaning and the relationship they had with the ruling elite, coupled with the distinction of rank to which they refer, which does not rule out the idea that they were probably gifts from the ruler to his closest collaborators, as proposed by the late epigraphist, Alfonso Lacadena, in a text published in 2008 ”.
According to the epigraphic study of Mateo Canul, the text engraved on the vessel is a Standard Primary Sequence or dedicatory phrase. It consists of five glyphic cartridges, which are read like this: A1 u jay (u-ja-yi) “It’s your cup”; B1 yuk’ib (yu-k’i-bi) “his glass”; C1 ta yutal (ta-yu-ta) “for its fruity”; D1 tsihil kakawa (tsi-li-ka-wa) “fresh or new cocoa”; D1 Sajal (sa-ja-la?) “Del Sajal”.
As a result of the progress of his studies, the specialist proposes the interpretation of: “El Vaso del Sajal”.
“Like other reported pieces of this type, “El Vaso del Sajal” mentions in the text the possible content, which in this case is the tsihil kakaw , which can be translated as “new or fresh cocoa”, whose drink has also been identified in texts of some Chocholá style vessels”, the archaeologist said.
Regarding the title Sajal , it indicates that there are some proposals from epigraphists regarding its meaning: John Montgomery (2002) has translated it as “subordinate man”; on the other hand, Alexander Voss has considered translating it as “exclamator”, this being the one who, possibly, said aloud the orders of the ajaw (ruler) of whom he would be subordinate. The epigraphic analysis is still in process.
The piece, found during the work of the Archaeological Salvage Project of the Maya Train ” U lu’umil maaya U lu’umil maaya wíiniko’ob : a regional analysis of the southeast Mesoamerican states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán, Quintana Roo”, Under the direction of the archaeologist Manuel Eduardo Pérez Rivas, it was recovered by the archaeologist Susana Echeverría Castillo, on June 28, as part of an offering registered in Section 3, which runs from Calkiní, Campeche, to Izamal, Yucatán, near the municipality of Maxcanú.
“It was recovered in a special context that probably corresponds to a mortuary deposit, identified as a cist, located below a stucco floor level. The piece was found on its side, with the edge facing south; Very close to the vessel, the presence of human skeletal remains was identified, which could correspond to long bones of the lower extremities ”.
The piece is relevant since it was discovered in the archaeological cultural context of origin, so its finding will reveal data on this aspect, helping to complete the archaeological information, in addition to what the piece can contribute in itself, the specialist concluded.
Source: La Jornada Maya