Monday, March 30, 2015

Titulo de Totonicapan

Totonicapan is a K'iche' speaking town in the western highlands of Guatemala. The Yax clan is its leading lineage. The Title of Totonicapan, composed in K'iche' using Latin script in 1554, was copied over time as the original deteriorated. It was translated into Spanish by Father Dionisio Jose Chonay in 1834. A copy of Chonay's translation made its way to France and a dual French/Spanish edition was published in 1885 as Titulo de los Senores de Totonicapan. A widely-read edition was published by Adrian Recinos in Spanish in 1950 and English in 1953, bundled with the Annals of the Cakchiquels.

In a once-in-a-lifetime discovery, anthropologist Robert M. Carmack in 1973 found the K'iche' manuscript Chonay had used for his 1834 translation in a strong box maintained by the Yax family in Totonicapan. Carmack and James L. Mondloch authored a scholarly edition of the work in K'iche' and Spanish that was published by UNAM in 1983.
Titulo de Totonicapan 1983 Edition
Mayan decipherment really got underway at the first Palenque Roundtable convened in December, 1973. By the time El Titulo de Totonicapan appeared ten years later, the Maya studies discipline was still very young and fresh with important new discoveries appearing regularly. This volume by Carmack and Mondloch was a significant contribution to that progress. Scholarly versions of other Quichean texts soon followed. These are the editions of important precontact Quichean documents we are analyzing for Book of Mormon correspondences.
  • El Titulo de Totonicapan, translated by Robert M. Carmack & James L. Mondloch, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, 1983
  • Popol Vuh, translated by Dennis Tedlock, Simon & Schuster, 1985, 1996
  • Rabinal Achi, translated by Dennis Tedlock, Oxford University Press, 2003
  • Kaqchikel Chronicles, translated by Judith M. Maxwell & Robert M. Hill II, University of Texas Press, 2006
  • Popol Vuh, translated by Allen J. Christenson, University of Oklahoma Press, 2007
These four post-classic Quichean documents share many names, places, ideas, and narrative motifs. Their content is corroborated by artwork from many Mesoamerican sites. They also have a great deal in common with the pre-classic and early classic Mesoamerican codex called the Book of Mormon. That should not surprise us since the best current Book of Mormon scholarship places the land of Nephi in what would later become Kaqchikel, Quiche, and Rabinal territory in highland Guatemala. Furthermore, the Book of Mormon explicitly says the Lamanites kept records Mosiah 24:6, Helaman 3:15.The blog article "Kaqchikel Chronicles" analyzes 117 correspondences between that text and the Book of Mormon. The blog article "Rabinal Achi" analyzes an additional 91 correspondences between that text and the Book of Mormon, in addition to corroborating 20 of the Kaqchikel parallels. One additional important correspondence (#209) is documented in the blog article entitled "Quichean Directionality." The blog article "Quichean Distance Measurement" expands on correspondences previously identified. A correspondence with the letter "k" means it is found in Kaqchikel Chronicles, while "r" means Rabinal Achi and "t" refers to Titulo de Totonicapan.

1 k r t. Titulo de Totonicapan was written in K'iche' using Latin script, then translated into Spanish (1834), French (1885) and English (1953) (pp.; 9-10).

3 k t. Titulo de Totonicapan focuses on the Cawek lineage (p. 12). Other lineages had their own records (p. 261).

7 k t. Titulo mentions chic'wal abaj meaning precious stones that were part of Quiche regalia brought from the east (pp. 220, 236). They have been interpreted as crystals, diamonds, or emeralds.

23 k r t. The Title has many instances of semantic parallelism (p. 31).

28 k r t. The authors of Titulo enjoined their posterity to remember their linage history (p. 187).

34 k r t. The Quiche god K'ucumats was a plumed serpent (p. 232).

38 k t. The Quiche recognized seven founding clans (p. 234)

39 k t. The post-contact Quiche self-identified as descendants of Israel (pp. 172-173. 176).

43 k r t. The Quiche surrounded their settlements with defensive walls (pp. 187, 236).

44 k t. The Quiche thought they had originally come from across the ocean (p. 173).

47 k t. The Quiche brought writings with them from Tulan (p. 213).

48 k r t. Titulo uses the term "elder and younger brothers" to refer to other peoples (p. 198).

63 k t. The K'iche' term for cotton body armor was Xak' pot (p. 216).

65 k r t. Titulo de Totonicapan mentions slavery (p. 187).

68 k r t. The Title begins many sentences with the words "In truth" or "Certainly" (pp. 176, 212).

92 k t. The Title mentions multiple thrones in the Quiche capital (p. 17).

100 k r t. Honey was a valued commodity among the Quiche (p. 191).

111 k t. The Quiche used traps to hunt animals (p. 236).

114 k, t. Among the Quiche, benches and chairs were symbols of power and authority (p. 197)

123 r t. The Quiche used the phrase "heaven, earth" to invoke deity (p. 190).

135 r t. Titulo de Totonicapan documents spying prior to military conquest (p. 188).

137 r t. Military personnel underwent a nose piercing ceremony with an object inserted that granted them authority (pp. 17, 196).

139 r t. The Title issues the injunctive "Listen" to its readers (p. 171).

149 r t. The Quiche revered a deity they called "four corners and four sides" (p. 233).

185 r t. Quiche lords fasted for the benefit of their constituents (p. 228).

186 r t. Titulo de Totonicapan almost certainly originated as a glyphic text (p. 213).

191 r t. Titulo speaks of hunger and famine (p. 235).

201 r t. Titulo de Totonicapan documents burnt offerings as devotional acts among the Quiche (p. 191).
210 t. When Chonay translated Titulo de Totonicapan from K'iche' into Spanish in 1834, he omitted the first seven folios because they followed the Bible so closely. We now know the author(s) of the 1554 Totonicapan document were copying freely from Domingo de Vico's 1553 Theologia Indorum written in K'iche' as a Dominican missionary tract (p. 13). Vico's book included translations of biblical passages and Catholic traditions such as stories of Santa Ana and San Joaquin (parents of the Virgin Mary). The Book of Mormon also has many significant intertextual dependencies with both the Old and New Testaments. See the blog article entitled "English in the Book of Mormon" for notes from a March, 2015 conference at BYU that explored some of the quotations, allusions and echoes shared between the Book of Mormon and the Bible.

211 t. Titulo de Totonicapan is the most important of a group of at least seven works written in K'iche' using Latin script in the colonial era in and around Totonicapan. Others include:
  • Titulo de Tamub II written in 1567, dealing with the Tamub lineage
  • Titulo de Caciques written in 1544, published in 1925
  • Titulo de C'oyoi published in 1979, dealing with the Cawek lineage in the Quetzaltenango area
  • Titulo de Yax, dealing with the Yax lineage in the Totonicapan area
  • Titulo de Chuachituj published in 1973 dealing with the area northeast of Totonicapan
  • Titulo de Paxtoca published in 1973 dealing with the area southwest of Totonicapan
  • Titulo de Santa Clara published in 1957
The Book of Mormon is the most important result of a literary tradition that produced many works dealing with multiple lineages in several areas Helaman 3:13-15.

212 t. The last page of the Titulo de Totonicapan contains a number of signatures (p. 12). Mormon signed his name at the end of the small plates of Nephi Words of Mormon 1:1. Moronisigned his name at the end of the plates of Mormon Moroni 10:1.

213 t. Old Testament stories reproduced in the first seven folios of the Title end with the Babylonian captivity (p. 10). The brass plates of Laban included Old Testament writings up to the time immediately preceding the exile. The Babylonian captivity was a matter of prophecy among the Nephites 1 Nephi 7:132 Nephi 1:4, 2 Nephi 25:10 until Mosiahdiscovered the Mulekites and it became part of the historical record Omni 1:15, Helaman 8:21.

214 t. The Title is a compound document redacted from multiple sources (p. 13). Ditto the Book of Mormon Words of Mormon 1:3, Mormon 2:17-18, Ether  1:2.

215 t. In their use of the biblical materials from Theologia Indorum, the Quiche authors of Titulo de Totonicapan quoted some passages outright, paraphrased others, and changed others to conform to their native cultural traditions (p. 13). The Book of Mormon quotes many biblical passages outright such as the Isaiah chapters and paraphrases others such as Nephi's glosses on Isaiah in 1 Nephi 22 and 2 Nephi 25. The Book of Mormon also describes a process of interpreting biblical passages in light of readers' or hearers' cultural traditions. The Book of Mormon term for this cultural accommodation is "liken" 1 Nephi 19:23, 2 Nephi 11:2, 8.

216 t. The Title was written by multiple authors, one of whom was a Quiche prince baptized Diego Reynoso (p. 15). Book of Mormon authors included Nephi1 Nephi 1:1, Zeniff Mosiah 9:1, Mormon Words of Mormon 1:9, and MoroniMormon 8:1.

217 t. The authors of the Titulo de Totonicapan as well as the authors of almost all other Quiche titles placed particular importance on the biblical account of the exodus and Israel's 40 year sojourn in the desert (p. 20). The exodus motif is so important in the Book of Mormon that several monographs have been written describing it. See George S. Tate, "The Typology of the Exodus Pattern in the Book of Mormon" in Literature of Belief: Sacred Scripture and Religious Experience, Neal E. Lambert editor, (Provo: Religious Studies Center, BYU, 1981). See also S. Kent Brown, "The Exodus Pattern in the Book of Mormon" in BYU Studies 30:3 (Summer, 1990). See also Bruce J. Boehm, "Wanderers in the Promised Land: A Study of the Exodus Motif in the Book of Mormon and Holy Bible" in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 3/1 (1994).

218 t. Another biblical theme very important to Quiche writers was the genealogical descent from Adam to Jacob (p. 20). Lehi, too, placed high importance on Adam, Jacob and genealogy 1 Nephi 

219 t. Achij, the Quiche military, participated in colonization programs in provinces of the kingdom (pp. 21, 198, 226). We see this pattern in the Book of Mormon as well. The military and settlers worked together to colonize new territory Alma 27:22-24, Alma 50:7-9.

220 t. Tohil, patron god of the Quiche, was conceived as anthropomorphic with a body, hands and vital organs (p. 22). The God of the Book of Mormon is also a corporeal being 3 Nephi 11:14, Ether 3:6.

221 t. Quiche rituals described in Titulo de Totonicapan included (p. 22):
  • plant sacrifices
  • animal sacrifices
  • human sacrifices
  • burnt offerings of copal incense
  • fasting
  • self sacrifice
  • ordeals
  • prayers
  • dances
  • songs
  • investiture of authority
  • funeral rites
  • founding of new settlements
  • emissary journeys to exchange gifts
  • emissary journeys to pay tribute
All of these rituals are attested to some degree in the Book of Mormon:
222 t. Clan structures among the Quiche predate the Spanish invasion. Institutions of civil governance sit atop lineage-based organizations (p. 23). In the Book of Mormon, when institutions of civil government were destroyed, what remained in society were clan structures 3 Nephi 7:2.

223 t. Quiche lineage groups made inter-clan alliances (p. 24). Tribes in the Book of Mormon had alliances and agreements among themselves 3 Nephi 7:14.

224 t. C'amal be is the K'iche' term for clan leader (p. 24). The Book of Mormon term is "chief" or "leader" 3 Nephi 7:3.

225 t. Titulo de Totonicapan is heterogeneous consisting of five different kinds of prose (p. 28):
  • historical narration relating history and the  actions of gods and culture heroes
  • formal prayers petitioning deity
  • final counsel to loved ones prior to a prolonged absence
  • ordinary conversation between mortals
  • archaic historical language
These same five kinds of literature are found in the heterogeneous Book of Mormon:
226 t. The Quiche conceived of a nine-layered heaven (p. 168). The Book of Mormon speaks of multiple heavens 2 Nephi 29:7, Ether 8:14.
227 t. The Quiche conceived of nine levels of angels (p. 168). The  Book of Mormon speaks of numberless concourses of angels 1 Nephi 1:8.

228 t. The first seven folios of Titulo de Totonicapan copy passages freely from Domingo Vico's 1553 Theologia Indorum. See correspondence number 210 t above. Vico, a Dominican priest and gifted linguist, borrowed Quiche concepts, words, names, and phrases as he penned his theological treatise aimed at proselytizing the Maya to Catholicism. Theologia Indorum is clearly based on the Bible and Catholic tradition. It is also clearly influenced by Mayan religious terminology and Quichean mythical-historical narratives. The authors of the Titulo de Totonicapan quote from Vico's K'iche' text but they also paraphrase, embellish, and deviate from it just as the Book of Mormon paraphrases, embellishes and deviates from the Bible. Things get very interesting when Quiche deviations from the Bible are attested in the Book of Mormon text.

Genesis 3:1-6 says the serpent spoke with Eve. In Genesis 3:13 Eve says the serpent beguiled her. Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:3 says Eve was the one beguiled by the serpent. The K'iche' variant of this story says the serpent spoke with both Adam and Eve, both of whom were deceived by the devil who tempted Eve after transforming himself into an angel with the tail of a serpent (p. 170). Jacob's account in 2 Nephi 9:9 is similar to the Totonicapan version. In the Nephite text both Adam and Eve were beguiled by the devil who transformed himself almost but not quite into an angel of light. Abinadi repeated the Nephite tradition that both Adam and Eve were beguiled by the devil in his guise as a serpent Mosiah 16:3. Serpents who can transform are a very Mesoamerican idea. Helaman2 taught that Satan enticed both of our first parents Helaman 6:26. Moroniin his translation of Jaredite records repeated the Nephite tradition that the father of lies beguiled both Adam and Eve Ether 8:25. So, is there a common Urtext from which Jacob, Abinadi, Moroni2, and the Totonicapan authors all derive their story of Adam, Eve, and the serpent? Perhaps. If our geographic model is correct, Jacob and Abinadi were both preaching in or around Kaminaljuyu which is a mere 93 air kilometers ESE of Totonicapan.

The story of Moses parting the Red Sea in Exodus 14 is another example of Quichean biblical deviation showing up in the Book of Mormon. The Bible says God instructed Moses to lift up his rod and stretch forth his hand over the sea Exodus 14:16. Five verses later we learn that Moses lifted up his hand and a divine wind was the active agent that parted the waters Exodus 14:21. This imagery of Moses' hand over the sea is an allusion to the power of God described in Abraham 2:7. Every graphic one is likely to encounter of Moses parting the waters shows the prophet with his hands in the air. This is a promotional poster for Cecile B. DeMille's 1956 epic starring Charlton Heston.
Portrayal of Moses (Charlton Heston) Parting the Red Sea
The precontact Quichean peoples told a slightly different story. Kaqchikel Chronicles (p. 39) says an ancestral Kaqchikel hero used a kaq-a-che' qa-ch'ame'y red-tree staff to stab the sand in the sea which opened up a corridor through the water. Titulo de Totonicapan (pp. 176, 216-217) says culture hero Balam Q'uitse took his staff and struck the sea which opened up a pathway of smooth sand. This Quichean tradition of crossing the ocean on dry ground with divine aid was so well-established that Domingo Vico adopted it when he wrote his 1553 Theologia Indorum. Chapter 63 of Vico's collection of biblical stories in K'iche' says Moses opened the Red Sea by cosij strking it with his ch'ami staff. In the Book of Mormon Nephisaid Moses spoke and the waters divided 1 Nephi 4:2, 1 Nephi 17:26. Lehiemphasized Moses' rod as the prophet's instrument of power 2 Nephi 3:17 since he had a speech impediment. Nephisaid Moses was given power to "smite upon the waters of the Red Sea" Helaman 8:11. Presumably Moses smote the waters with his rod just as he later smote the rock in the desert with his rod to make water gush out 1 Nephi 17:29, 2 Nephi 25:20, Numbers 20:11. When mortals do the smiting in the Book of Mormon, there is almost always a rod 1 Nephi 3:29, sword Alma 19:22, club Alma 17:37, or other physical object Alma 1:22, Alma 27:29Alma 49:20 creating the percussion. Moses foreshadowed Jesus Christ who doesn't need a physical object because his mouth and rod are one and the same thing 2 Nephi 21:4 citing Isaiah 11:4, 2 Nephi 30:9. So what are we to make of this Quichean story of parting the waters by striking them with a rod that differs from the biblical account in precisely the same way the Book of Mormon differs from the Bible? Do the Quichean texts and Mormon's Codex derive from a common source? Possibly. We need more examples of this textual phenomenon before we can posit valid conclusions.

229 t. The K'iche' phrase kachuch, kakajaw meaning "our mother, our father" refers to the ancestral founders of a linage. The related term chuch, kajaw "mother, father" is a ritually androgynous spiritual leader of a linage responsible for mediating between the world of the living and the dead. Father Vico in his Theologia Indorum adopted the words kachuch, kakajaw to mean Adam and Eve, but the term also had additional ancestral referents among the Quiche (pp. 206-207). The Book of Mormon employs a similar term in the same way. Among the Nephites, "first parents" referred not only to Adam and Eve 1 Nephi 5:11, 2 Nephi 2:15,  2 Nephi 9:9, Helaman 6:26; but also to Nephiand his brother, Jacob, and their wives Jacob 4:3; Jared and his brother and their wives Omni 1:22; as well as Lehiand his son, Nephi1 Helaman 5:6.

230 t. Among the 12 sons of Jacob, the authors of Titulo de Totonicapan singled out Joseph for special mention (pp. 171, 173). Joseph was the tribal connection through whom both the Nephites and Lamanites in the Book of Mormon descended 1 Nephi 5:14, Jacob 2:25, 3 Nephi 15:12.

231 t. Domingo de Vico's 1553 Theologia Indorum consists of nearly 700 manuscript pages divided into two parts. The first part, containing 105 numbered chapters, describes God and narrates biblical histories, doctrines, stories and miracles from the creation through the birth of Christ. The second part, containing 110 numbered chapters, begins with the parents of Mary, mother of Jesus, and ends with the final judgment. The authors of Titulo de Totonicapan were highly selective in the citations they chose to include in their text. They were interested in the creation, genealogies, the exodus with its attendant Israelite peregrinations, and the diaspora at the hands of the Assyrians and Babylonians. The summary below of Theologia content in Titulo comes from Garry Sparks' article "Fill in the Middle Ground: Intertextuality and Inter-Religious Dialogue in 16th Century Guatemala" in Journal of Interreligious Dialogue, Issue 5, Part 2 (Winter, 2011). Sparks' 2011 University of Chicago Divinity School dissertation analyzed Vico's Theologia Indorum as an amalgam of Maya and Christian beliefs:
  • seven days of creation and the earthly paradise
  • nine levels of angels
  • creation of first humans
  • creation of Eve out of Adam and the two trees
  • Cain, Abel, Seth and their descendants
  • flood and the children of Noah
  • tower of Babel
  • Jacob and his sons
  • Joseph and the entrance into Egypt
  • Moses in Egypt
  • Moses and Aaron confront the pharaoh
  • crossing the river (Red Sea)
  • journey in the wilderness
  • defeat of Amalech (Amalek)
  • arrival of children of Jacob
  • death of Moses in Moab
  • Jericho defeated and Joseph (Joshua from the tribe of Ephraim) as ruler
  • Joseph's death
  • Samuel and Saul
  • David
  • Solomon
  • listing of prophets (Elijah, Elisha, Daniel, Isaiah, Jonah)
  • arrival of Babylon and Assyria
  • diaspora by Babylon and Assyria
All 24 of these themes are attested in the Book of Mormon. Some are treated cursorily, but most are well attested:
The same things that impressed the Quiche when they read biblical stories in their native language in 1553 had impressed Nephite scribes over 1,000 years earlier.
232 t. The temporal sweep of the biblical themes the Totonicapan authors included in their Titulo extended from the creation of the world to the Babylonian exile. This is precisely the time period covered by the brass plates of Laban 1 Nephi 5:11-12 supplemented with the history of Mulek and his Jewish emigrants to the Americas Omni 1:15, Helaman 8:21.

233 t. The Quiche authors of Titulo were fascinated by Moses. They mention him 22 times between folios 5 recto and 6 recto. The only Old Testament prophet mentioned more frequently is Adam. The Nephite authors of the Book of Mormon were equally impressed with Moses. They mention him 27 times in their various writings and an additional 36 times in connection with the lesser law he brought down from Sinai. The only Old Testament prophet mentioned more frequently in Nephite scripture is Jacob who changed his name to Israel.

234 t. The Quiche believed that anciently, before they migrated to their present home, they spoke the same language (p. 175). The Book of Mormon describes a group of people who spoke a common tongue before they emigrated to the Americas Ether 1:35-37.

235 t. The Quiche believed that anciently they had unity among themselves (p. 175). The Book of Mormon describes a time when all peoples in Mesoamerica were united 4 Nephi 1:15-17.

236 t. The Quiche believed that anciently they migrated to their present home from the place where the sun rises (p. 175). An azimuth plotted from Utatlan, Quiche, Guatemala to Jerusalem, point of departure for both Mulekites and Lehites, falls at 46.92 degrees or ENE, clearly within the eastern quadrant on the Quiche horizon.
46.92 Degree Eastward Vector from Utatlan to Jerusalem
237 t. The Quiche believed their ancestors brought tree and shrub cuttings with them on their migration to their new home (p. 176). The Book of Mormon describes two groups who brought botanical material with them to plant in their new homes 1 Nephi 8:1, 1 Nephi 18:24, Ether 2:3.

238 t. The Quiche remembered a time, during their migrations, when they had neither food nor drink (p. 176). Hunger and thirst while traveling are mentioned several times in the Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 16:35, Mosiah 7:16, Alma 17:5, Alma 37:42.

239 t. The Quiche had a custom of publicly announcing the future date of a battle (p. 178). A similar custom existed among the Nephites and Lamanites Mormon 3:4, Mormon 6:2-3.

240 t. Titulo de Totonicapan documents an instance where foreigners were bound and carried before the king (p. 193). The Book of Mormon records this custom among the Nephites Mosiah 7:7-8, and the Lamanites Alma 17:20. See Jack Welch's excellent book The Legal Cases in the Book of Mormoin for a discussion of the practice of suspects being bound and carried before a civil authority.

241 t. Offensive and defensive armaments used by Quiche warriors included slings, spears, arrows and shields (p. 193). All are attested in the Book of Mormon Alma 17:7, Alma 49:24.

242 t. The Quiche used metal shields (p. 196). King Limhi's explorers found breastplates of copper and brass Mosiah 8:10.

243 t. The Quiche built structures using stones joined with mortar (p. 204). The Nephites built with stone Alma 48:8.

244 t. Titulo de Totonicapan talks of a place called Panpaxil (p. 212). Carmack thinks it was a place of many waters and rivers along the Gulf Coast. Most serious Book of Mormon geographers place the land of Cumorah along the Gulf Coast. Cumorah was explicitly a land of many waters, rivers and fountains Mormon 6:4.
Likely Cumorah on Well-Watered Gulf Coast
245 t. Titulo de Totonicapan talks of writing from a cave (p. 213). The prophet Ether engraved his record while hiding in the cavity of a rock Ether 13:13-14. Mormon retrieved the Nephite archives hidden in Hill Shim Mormon 4:23.

246 t. Titulo de Totonicapan originated as a glyphic codex which is no longer extant (p, 213). The Book of Mormon originated as Mormon's glyphic codex Mormon 9:32, which is no longer extant.

247 t. The post-contact Quiche called their previous religious beliefs "lies" (p. 213). Almaprophesied ca. 82 BC that the Lamanites at some future time would be brought to believe in the word of God and would know of the incorrectness of the traditions of their fathers Alma 9:17.

248 t. Titulo de Totonicapan mentions a small lake in Nimsoy Carchaq (p. 217). Carchaq is the modern town of San Pedro Carcha, Alta Verapaz, that figures prominently in Quichean literature. Carmack suggests the small lake may be Lake Peten Itza in northern Peten. This seems highly unlikely for two reasons: a) Lake Peten Itza is 168 air kilometers from San Pedro Carcha while San Pedro Carcha is only 105 air kilometers from Utatlan and 128 air kilometers from Totonicapan; and b) Lake Peten Itza is not small in a Guatemalan context. With a surface area of 99 square kilometers, it is the third largest lake in the country next to Izabal (589 square kilometers) and Atitlan (130 square kilometers). A better fit to the text is Laguneta Chichoj on the outskirts of San Cristobal Verapaz, Alta Verapaz. Laguneta Chichoj has a surface area of 500,000 square meters or .5 square kilometers. It is 21 air kilometers SW of San Pedro Carcha.
Laguneta Chichoj in Proposed Book of Mormon Context
If Laguneta Chichoj is indeed the small lake in Nimsoy Carchaq, it is right in the travel corridor we propose between the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla.

249 t. Titulo describes an office called ajq' uix, ajcaj which means sacrificer. This was a person who was simultaneously a political leader and a priest (p. 219). Almaserved as both chief judge and high priest of the Nephite nation for nine years Mosiah 29:42. Alma 4:17-18.

250 t. The Quiche erected statues or idols they called uc'abawil to represent their gods (p. 220). Idols among the Lamanites are attested in the Book of Mormon Alma 17:15, Mormon 4:14.

251 t. In Quichean literature, camasots' is the bat of death, a vampire from the underworld Xibalba (p. 221). In Book of Mormon imagery, the bat is associated with caves or holes in the ground 2 Nephi 12:20 citing Isaiah 2:20. Some biblical translations, for example, render the phrase in Isaiah 2:20 "the caves where rodents and bats live" or "the caves of the moles and of the bats."

252 t. Quiche warriors carried body parts from vanquished victims as tokens of battlefield success (pp. 221-222). Nephites mutilated the bodies of vanquished victims as tokens of battlefield bravery Moroni 9:10.

253 t. The Quiche and their enemies employed sorcery to cast spells upon each other using "words of death" (p. 223). The Book of Mormon associates sorcery, witchcraft and magic arts with evil Alma 1:32 and the power of Satan Mormon 1:19, Mormon 2:10.

254 t. The Quiche had a unit of repetitive time measure they called uk'u tak k'ij which means "every seven days." Nobles bathed themselves every seven days (p. 223). The biblical concept of a seven day week is attested in the Book of Mormon Mosiah 18:25, Alma 31:12.

255 t. In the Quichean vigesimal or base 20 numeral system, 400 and 8,000 are important  numbers because they are multiples of 20 (pp. 225-225). The numbers 20 Alma 50:1, 3 Nephi 4:15; 400 Alma 45:10, Helaman 13:5, Mormon 8:6; and 8,000 Helaman 5:19 appear in the Book of Mormon text as well.

256 t. Among the Quiche, babies born "marked" were reasons for sadness (p. 226). Among the Nephites, babies born with the mark of the Lamanites were considered cursed Alma 3:6-9.

257 t. Quiche military leaders sometimes served simultaneously as judges (p. 226). The Book of Mormon describes chief judges leading military campaigns Alma 2:16, Alma 62:7-8.

258 t. The Quiche had an office among the nobility called atsij winak which means spokesman or speaker for the people (p. 228). The Book of Mormon describes important officials called spokesmen 2 Nephi 3:17-18.

259 t. Titulo de Totonicapan says the heroic founders of the Quiche nation did not die, they just disappeared (p. 234). The Book of Mormon records instances of mortals who disappeared Alma 45:18-19 and who became translated beings 4 Nephi 1:14.

260 t. Several Quiche settlements were divided roughly in half along lineage lines (pp. 234, 240). Zarahemla was divided roughly in half between the Nephites and the Mulekites Mosiah 25:4.

261 t. One of the founders of the Quiche nation, Iqui Balam, died without issue so Ts'utuja' and his family were adopted into the polity. In the Book of Mormon, many people were adopted into other groups. For example, the Zoramites became Lamanites Alma 43:4, many Nephites became Lamanites Helaman 3:16, and some Lamanites became Nephites 3 Nephi 2:14.

262 t. Titulo de Totonicapan describes Q'uechelajil winak people who (pp. 237 - 238):
  • were not governed by Quiche civil authority
  • lived in the mountains
  • hunted game for subsistence
  • wore animal skins for clothing
  • threatened war against the Quiche
The Gadianton robbers in the Book of Mormon
263 t. Titulo de Totonicapan describes a war of annihilation where only two enemy individuals remained alive (p. 239). The Book of Mormon describes a war of annihilation where only Coriantumr and Ether remained alive Ether 15:29-33.

264 t. The Quiche never conquered the Ak'aab of Cawinal. The Ak'aab recognized the Quiche as their superiors and the two groups joined (p. 239). The Nephites never conquered the people of Zarahemla. The Mulekites recognized Nephite superiority and the two groups joined Omni 1:14-19.

265 t. Once the Quiche reached their final destination and founded their penultimate ancient capital Chiismachi near modern Santa Cruz del Quiche, they had nearly continuous warfare with their neighbors (p. 242). Moronidescribes the Lamanites engaged in nearly continuous warfare Mormon 8:8.

266 t. Titulo de Totonicapan mentions children being sacrificed (p. 243). The Book of Mormon mentions children being sacrificed Mormon 4:14-15, 21.

267 t. Titulo describes medicinal plants (p. 243). The Book of Mormon describes medicinal plants Alma 46:40.

268 t. The Quiche marked borders between settlements with symbols that denoted either a state of war or a condition of peace between the polities (p. 245). Military and para-military actions are associated with borders between polities in the Book of Mormon. See the blog article entitled "Borders."

269 t. Food was paid as tribute to the Quiche (p. 245). Food was paid as tribute to the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon Mosiah 22:7.

270 t. The Quiche built with cement (p. 248). The Nephites built with cement Helaman 3:7-11.

271 t. Titulo de Totonicapan mentions capital punishment by stoning (p. 249). Ditto the Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 1:20, 2 Nephi 26:3, Alma 33:17, Helaman 13:24, 3 Nephi 7:19.

272 t. Gems and metals were considered valuables among the Quiche (p. 251). A common Book of Mormon phrase describing valuables is gold, silver, and precious things 1 Nephi 3:22, Jarom 1:8, Mosiah 11:9. Alma 15:16.

273 t. Jades, metals, fabric, and clothing were among the valuables that adorned the Quiche god Tojil (p. 253). The Book of Mormon lists precious things in association with metals, fabrics, and wearing apparel 1 Nephi 13:7-8Alma 1:29, Alma 4:6, Ether 9:17.

274 t. The Quiche had the notion that the left hand side was inferior to the right (p. 256). The same idea is expressed in the Book of Mormon Mosiah 5:10-12.

275 t. The extant copy of Titulo de Totonicapan was written in different hands by multiple scribes (p. 256). The original manuscript of the Book of Mormon was written in different hands by multiple scribes who included Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer and Emma Smith.

276 t. The Titulo de Totonicapan as well as other Quichean documents shows a great deal of phrase standardization in formal discourse (p. 257). The Book of Mormon has such a strong tendency to use the same word constructs over and over to express standardized meanings in similar contexts that Royal Skousen coined a term for this textual consistency. He calls it "systematic phraseology." See the article "The Systematic Text of the Book of Mormon" in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies Volume 11, Issue 2, Provo: Maxwell Institute, 2002.

277 t. The Quiche remembered a time when inequality entered into society, causing many commoners to become proud and arrogant (p. 258). The pride cycle, driven by the unequal distribution of material goods, is well-known in the Book of Mormon Alma 4:12, Helaman 3:36, Helaman 7:26, 3 Nephi 6:10.

278 t. Titulo de Totonicapan uses K'iche' terms that describe relative proximity between an object and an author or speaker. The degrees of proximity are very close, within eyesight, and beyond view (p. 269). The Book of Mormon uses the terms near, by, not far, and far to express relative distances. See the blog articles "Things Near and Far" and "By and By."

279 t. The authors of Titulo de Totonicapan make editorial promises that they will explain certain points later in their text (p. 272). Mormon and the authors he cites make editorial promises frequently in the Book of Mormon text Mosiah 23:23, Alma 57:8. 3 Nephi 7:1, 3 Nephi 10:18.

280 t. Titulo de Totonicapan, following Quichean literature in general, makes frequent use of quotations within narrative prose (p. 275). The Book of Mormon makes frequent use of quotations in many different literary genres, including narrative prose Alma 9:13Alma 10:1, Alma 30:49-50, Helaman 11:3-5.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Quichean Distance Measurement

The Nephites in the New World employed a unit of distance measure they called one day's journey. Examples of this usage include:
  • Mosiah 23:3 Almaand his converts left the city of Nephi and environs, entered the wilderness, then traveled eight days' journey in the wilderness to the land of Helam.
  • Mosiah 24:20 Almaand his people traveled all one day from the land of Helam to the valley of Alma. This verse implies a longer than normal travel day.
  • Mosiah 24:25 Almaand his people traveled twelve days in the wilderness from the valley of Alma to the southern border of the lesser land of Zarahemla.
  • Alma 8:6 Almatravelled three days' journey north from the land of Melek to the city of Ammonihah.
  • Alma 22:32 An east-west boundary between the land Desolation on the north and the land Bountiful on the south was one and a half day's journey long. Mormon's use of the diminutive "only" implies this was a modest distance in Nephite affairs. See the blog article "A Nephite" for analysis showing this term meant an ordinary member of the Nephite polity rather than an elite individual with exceptional prowess.
  • Helaman 4:7 A shorter east-west fortification line entirely contained within land Bountiful was one day's journey long.
The text describes a similar unit of measure in the Old World, although camel caravans treading the sands of the Levant or Arabia probably traveled a longer distance in one day than pedestrians in Mesoamerica 1 Nephi 2:6.

In an attempt to deduce a likely straight-line distance for the Nephite New World "one day's journey," we looked at many known pre-industrial journeys in southern Mesoamerica. See the blog article "Land Southward Travel Times." Our conclusion: 15 air or straight-line kilometers is a reasonable distance for a cultural construct measuring one day's journey. The Book of Mormon map that has evolved through this blog since 2011 assumes a Nephite unit of distance measure equal to 15 air kilometers per day. The blog article "Test #6 Relative Distances" shows how precisely this derived metric correlates with the text.

John L. Sorenson's model is much more problematic. Kaminaljuyu, Sorenson's correlate for the city of Nephi, sits on the continental divide at an elevation of 1,540 meters. A terrain plane set at 1,700 meters roughly defines the western edge of urban Guatemala City today. This provides a reasonable point where Almaand his converts could have entered the wilderness on their way to Helam.
1,700 Meter Line 6 Kilometers West of Kaminaljuyu
Sorenson has two potential locations for the land of Helam: Aguacatan or Malacatancito, both in Huehuetenango. Aguacatan, home to the scenic "nacimiento del rio San Juan"  is 107 air kilometers from the wilderness west of Nephi. Malacatancito is 116 air kilometers distant.
Alma's 8 Day Journey per the Sorenson Model
If Aguacatan is Helam, a Nephite day's journey is 107/8 days = 13.38 air kilometers/day. If Malacatancito is Helam, the number is 116/8 = 14.5 air kilometers per day. These numbers are slightly short, but still in the ballpark of reasonableness compared with the 15 air kilometers/day metric described above. They point out a stark contradiction, though, in Sorenson's map logic. He correlates the waters of Mormon with beautiful Lake Atitlan. Mosiah 18 describes Alma1's converts traveling to the waters of Mormon for Sabbath observances, then returning to their homes in the lands of Nephi and Shilom during the work week. The shortest possible distance between Kaminaljuyu and Lake Atitlan is 61 air kilometers, a four day journey given the Nephi to Helam distance plotted above. Round trip would be an eight or nine day journey.
61 Air Kilometers Kaminaljuyu to Lake Atitlan
If the city of Nephi is in the valley of Guatemala, Lake Atitlan is much too far away to be the waters of Mormon.

Sorenson identifies Huehuetenango as the valley of Alma. It is 19 air kilometers distant from Aguacatan which fits the sense of Mosiah 24:20 nicely.
19 Air Kilometers Aguacatan to Huehuetenango
Malacatancito, on the other hand, is only 5 air kilometers from Huehuetenango. This distance is so short it directly contradicts the text.

The distance from Sorenson's valley of Alma to his lesser land of Zarahemla is another serious contradiction. It is only 101 air kilometers from Huehuetenango to the head of the Mezcalapa-Grijalva at the confluence of the Cuilco with the Selegua.
101 Air Kilometers Huehuetenango to Head of the Grijalva
101/12 days = a mere 8.4 air kilometers per day. This small distance begs credulity. It is completely out of proportion with the Nephi to Helam and Helam to valley of Alma legs of the journey. No historical journey in southern Mesoamerica of which I am aware moved that slowly (see the blog article "Land Southward Travel Times." Even counting all the days they huddled freezing and dying in the snow, the Martin Handcart Company averaged 13.94 air kilometers per day. Even fighting battles along the way from Waka (El Peru) to Tikal, Fire is Born and his shock troops from Teotihuacan averaged 9.75 air kilometers per day in their AD 378 conquest of the Peten. Sorenson's valley of Alma to Zarahemla distance is unreasonably short and therefore a poor fit to the text.

Sorenson offers two possible lands of Melek, one on Rio Pando and the other that he calls "mountain protected" west southwest of Santa Rosa on the Jaltenango. His Ammonihah is Mirador on the La Venta. The text explicitly says Ammonihah was three days' journey north of Melek Alma 8:6. Mirador is 55 air kilometers north northwest of the Rio Pando site. 55/3 days = 18.33 air kilometers/day which is on the high side but possible in southern Mesoamerica.
55 Air Kilometers Rio Pando to Mirador
On the other hand, Mirador is 123 air kilometers west northwest of the Jaltenango site, 123/3 days = 41 air kilometers/day which is ludicrous. Even that untenable number, though, pales in comparison with Sorenson's idea that the day and a half's journey in Alma 22:32 was across the entire Isthmus of Tehuantepec from the Gulf of Campeche to the Pacific, a distance of 216 air kilometers.
216 Air Kilometers Across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec
216/1.5 days = 144 air kilometers/day. This number is so large it is a whole order of magnitude beyond reasonableness. This is a summary of Sorenson's proposed distance metrics.
  • Malacatancito to Huehuetenango one long day = 5 air kilometers
  • Huehuetenango to head of the Grijalva one day = 8.4 air kilometers
  • Kaminaljuyu to Aguacatan one day = 13.38 air kilometers
  • Kaminaljuyu to Malacatancito one day = 14.50 air kilometers
  • Rio Pando to Mirador on the La Venta one day = 18.33 air kilometers
  • Aguacatan to Huehuetenango one long day = 19 air kilometers
  • Jaltenango to Mirador on the La Venta one day = 41 air kilometers
  • Gulf of Campeche to the Pacific one day = 144 air kilometers
These glaring inconsistencies are a mass of confusion.

Like the Nephites, the precontact Quichean nations of western highland Guatemala had a standard unit of distance measure they called "one day's journey." Plotted on modern maps, the distance works out to be very close to 15 air kilometers per day. Like the Book of Mormon peoples, Quiches & Rabinals were consistent in their usage of this metric. Our sources for the following examples are the same two works by Dennis Tedlock referenced in the blog article entitled "Quichean Directionality."

In Cawek's fifth speech, he refers to the Rabinal domain in parallel verse as pa jun warab'al pa kay warab'al "one day's journey, two days' journey" (Rabinal p. 50). Movement references in Rabinal Achi are typically west to east. Rabinal territory after the conquests by Quicab in the early 15th century was about 30 kilometers from west to east.
Rabinal Lands ca AD 1430
A good metric for this reference is 30/2 days = 15 air kilometers per day. When precontact Rabinals spoke of "one day's journey" they had in mind a distance of about 15 air kilometers. The Rabinal also had a smaller unit of distance measure they called k'a'm "cord" which is about 18 meters in length. It was primarily used for demarcating land areas such as homesteads and cornfields, but it could also be used for measuring distances from point A to point B (Rabinal pp. 55-56).

The distance from Chicabracan (Earthquake) to Utatlan (Quiche Mountain Quiche Valley) was considered very short (Rabinal p. 59). It was less than a day's journey (Rabinal p. 184). In fact, it was half a day's journey (Rabinal p. 258).
8 Air Kilometers from Chicabracan to Utatlan
A good metric for this reference is 8/.5 days = 16 air kilometers per day.

The distance from Xol Chaqaj (Between the Wasp's Nests) to Chi K'otom / Chi Tikiram / chuch'a'xik (the place called Pitted and Planted) was less than a day's journey (Rabinal p. 254).
The actual distance is slightly less than 10 air kilometers.
Approximate Locations of Wasp's Nests, Pitted & Planted
From Nim Xol (Great Hollow) on the Cahabon east of San Pedro Carcha to the mountain sacred to the Quiche deity Tohil was several days' journey (Breath p. 20). The actual distance turns out to be about 95 air kilometers.
Distance from Great Hollow to Patohil
95/15 - 16 air kilometers/day = a 6 days' journey which fits the description "several days."

From Great Hollow on the Cahabon to the head of K'ulk'u Siwan (Rumbling Intestine Canyon) was a strenuous, long day's journey (Breath p. 21). The actual distance is about 28 air kilometers.
Distance Great Hollow to Rumbling Intestine
The distance from Xe Laju Kej (Quetzaltenango which is locally called "Xelaju" or simply "Xela") to Utatlan was more than two but less than three days' journey (Breath p. 103). The actual distance is about 43 air kilometers.
Distance from Quetzaltenango to Utatlan
From the eastern shore of Lake Atitlan to the modern city of Antigua was a three days' journey (Breath p. 223).
Lake Atitlan to Antigua Guatemala
The distance is about 45 air kilometers. 45/3 days = 15 air kilometers per day.

All of these data points taken together tell a consistent story. In the Quichean area of  highland Guatemala a normal day's pedestrian journey was and is a distance on the order of 15 - 16 air or straight-line kilometers. This corroboration of our deduced Nephite metric could hardly be more striking.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Quichean Directionality

Accurate correlation of the Book of Mormon with the Mesoamerican map requires interpretation of the words "north, south, east and west." In order to justify his geography, John L.Sorenson had to skew the cardinal directions so his east coast cities are actually north northwest of his Zarahemla. The map below shows the Mezcalapa - Grijalva River in blue as it ran in early Book of Mormon times. As with all images on this blog, click to enlarge.
Five Book of Mormon Toponyms in the Sorenson Model
I find Sorenson's rhetoric on this point absurd. The blog articles "Water Fight on the River - Round Ten" and "Test #5 North South East and West" detail why I believe the ancient Jewish "east," Mesoamerican "east," Book of Mormon "east," Early Modern English "east," Jacksonian American English "east," and contemporary English "east" all orient to sunrise.

This article will explore directional cardinality as understood by the precontact Quiche of western highland Guatemala. My primary sources are two books by Dennis Tedlock, best known for his acclaimed translation of Popol Vuh.

The first is Rabinal Achi published by Oxford University Press in 2003.
2003 Tedlock Source
The second is Breath on the Mirror, paperback edition, published by University of New Mexico Press in 1997. The original hardcover edition was published by Harper in 1993.
1997 Tedlock Source
Tedlock distinguished himself as a Quichean specialist while serving on the English and Anthropology Faculties at SUNY Buffalo and as a visiting professor at other institutions including Harvard and UT Austin. He received his PhD in 1968 from Tulane. From 1994-98 he was coeditor of American Anthropologist.

Rabinal Achi is the only precontact Mayan theater extant. It is still performed in Rabinal, Baja Verapaz today. UNESCO recognized the dance drama in 2005 as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Breath on the Mirror, subtitled Mythic Voices and Visions of the Living Maya, is an ethnographic collection of stories gathered from priest-shamans and daykeepers in the K'iche' speaking Guatemalan highlands. Tedlock draws on his training in both anthropology and linguistics for erudite notes and commentary that relate the drama and stories to the ancient Quichean literary tradition, Maya archaeology, and highland Guatemalan geography.

Four important precontact Quichean texts have survived. All four are now available in excellent academic editions that take advantage of the knowledge explosion precipitated by Mayan decipherment. The four are:
Because its motifs were rendered on hundreds of stone, ceramic, wood and stucco surfaces from Yucatan to the Soconusco, the earliest dating to ca. 300 BC (Izapa stela 25), Popol Vuh is now generally recognized as the most important precontact Mesoamerican text extant. It shares a great deal of intertextual commonality with the other three Quichean works listed above.

This corpus of precontact Quichean literature is significant to Book of Mormon studies because all credible Mesoamerican geographical correlations (Sorenson 1985, 2013; Hauck 1988; Allen 1989, 2008; Turner 2004; Norman 2006; Magleby 2011) place the city and land of Nephi in highland Guatemala. Over 250 correspondences between these Quichean texts and the Book of Mormon have been identified to date. See the blog articles "Kaqchikel Chronicles," "Rabinal Achi." and Titulo de Totonicapan." This article about cardinal directionality in the Quiche worldview constitutes correspondence #209 r.

Rabinal Achi, aka Dance of the Trumpets, is performed on a square stage oriented to the four cardinal directions. Circular dances are performed at each of the four corners of the square. The play refers often to "four edges and four corners" (Rabinal pp. 106, 111) This is Tedlock's stage diagram (Rabinal p. 25).
Rabinal Achi Stage Oriented to the Four Cardinal Directions
When Cawek is executed at the end of the play, he faces west because the Maya associated sunset with death and descent into the underworld.

In Cawek's seventh speech he describes the Quiche lords assembled at Utatlan as "Gathered Cane Plants, Gathered Lakes, Gathered Canyons, Gathered Birds" (Rabinal p. 65). In Man of Rabinal's ninth speech he calls the same assemblage "Gathered Cane Plants, Gathered Canyons, Gathered Lakes, Gathered Honey, Gathered Birds" (Rabinal p. 76). Tedlock explains that these names are various symbols of the length and breadth of Quiche territory. In particular, he describes Kuchuma Cho "Gathered Lakes" as referring to the five sacred Quiche lakes, one at each of the four cardinal directions with a fifth at the center near Utatlan. Kuchuma Tz'ikin "Gathered Birds" refers to fowl that flock together at lakes and wetlands. Kuchuma Aj refers to cane plants that grow in bodies of water (Rabinal p. 260). For more information about the five sacred lakes located at the four sides and center of the Quiche world, Tedlock refers his readers to Breath on the Mirror (Rabinal p. 340).

Tedlock's diagram of the Quiche lake geography is a classic compass rose or quincunx (Breath p. 88).
Layout of Quiche Sacred Lakes at Each of the Four Cardinal Directions
Tedlock then goes on to explain where each of these lakes is located on the modern map (Breath pp. 243,244). Chi'ul Landslide Place is between Nebaj and Cunen in Quiche. Tz'ujil Dripping Place is east of Joyabaj in Quiche. Panajachel Puppet Trees is on the north shore of Lake Atitlan in Solola. Socob Water Jar is due west of Momostenango in Totonicapan. The center lake, Lemoa' Mirror Water, is southeast of Santa Cruz del Quiche in Quiche. This map shows the five sacred lakes of the Quiche in context.
Five Sacred Quiche Lakes
In the precontact Quiche world, the four cardinal directions were the same ones we use today and their azimuths were plotted from the capital Utatlan at the center or heart of Quiche lands. In the Book of Mormon world we believe the four cardinal directions were the same ones we use today and their azimuths were plotted from the capital Zarahemla in the Sidon corridor at the center or heart of Nephite lands. The Nephite worldview included a body of water at each of the four cardinal directions Helaman 3:8.

For another concept of lakes at the four cardinal directions and the center, see the blog article "Light from L.A." point 6.

The Maya worldview included a sea in each of the four cardinal directions. This is how Daniel Finamore and Stephen D. Houston described this belief on page 15 of their 2010 Fiery Pool: the Maya and the Mythic Sea, Peabody Essex Museum and Yale University Press:
"Above and below, on all four sides, in their past and in their future, water, embodied primarily by the sea, was the defining feature of the Maya spiritual world and the inspiration for much of their finest art." For more on the four seas in each of the four cardinal directions, see the article "Smoking Gun."

In  the western Quiche town of Momostenango, Maya daykeepers continue to perform rituals at mountaintop shrines as their ancestors did before the Spanish invasion. Momostenango, which Tedlock calls "Altar Town," is surrounded by four sacred mountains oriented to each of the four cardinal directions. Quilaha is east, Socob west, Pipil north, and Tamancu south of Altar Town (Breath pp. 69, 84-85). This map shows the geography.
Four Sacred Mountains Surrounding Momostenango
Socob on the map above is the very same mountain as Water Jar on the map of Quiche lakes. Socob has some small pools near its summit. In K'iche' Socob means "water jar." Daykeepers break fired clay water jars and use the shards as holders to burn copal incense at shrines on certain propitious calendar days.

The ancient Quiche conceived of the four cardinal directions in the same way most civilizations on earth have done because their sun, moon, and morning star (Venus) all rose in the east and set in the west. As the sun came up over the eastern horizon, north was on its right hand and south on its left. The concept of four sides with four corners was foundational to the Quichean view of earth and sky (Breath p. 3).

The list of correspondences between precontact Quichean literature and the Book of Mormon continues with #210 t in the blog article "Titulo de Totonicapan."

Article last updated May 12, 2015.