MAYAN CODICES

     The Maya wrote their books, or codices, in ideograms. Thousands upon thousands were created, and almost all were burned by European Invaders.  One involved in destroying the codices was Friar Diego de Landa (1524-1579), the Bishop of Yucatán.  "We found a large number of books in these characters and, as they contained nothing in which were not to be seen as superstition and lies of the devil, we burned them all, which they (the Maya) regretted to an amazing degree, and which caused them much affliction," he said. To preserve the remaining books, the Maya buried them or hid them in caves. Some have been found, but because of the humidity in the jungles, only fragments remain, and all their pictures have long since decayed. Luckily, three codices did survive, probably because they were already in Europe, although how they got there is a mystery. They lay forgotten for 250 years in three separate cities until, under very risky circumstances, they became known in Dresden, Germany;  Paris, France; and Madrid, Spain.

The Dresden Codex: the most beautiful, complete and best made of the three. Written on kopo, the codex was made between A.D. 1000-1200, and was still possibly in use when the conquistadors arrived. Basically about astronomy, the codex includes almanacs and day counts for worship and prophecies; astronomical and astrological tables; and katún (a 20-year period) prophecies; references and predictions for time and agriculture; favorable days for predictions, and texts about sickness and medicine. It also contains a page about a flood, a prophecy or maybe a reference to the rainy seasons so vital to the Maya.
THE PARIS CODEX: The Peresianus Codex refers to questions of ritual and includes katuns from A.D. 1224-1441, their corresponding gods, ceremonies, rituals and prophecies. Other pages are full of predictive almanacs, New Year ceremonies and a zodiac divided into 364 days.   It is thought to be from 13th-century Palenque, Chiapas, and is older than the Dresden Codex.
THE MADRID CODEX is the longest and best preserved of the three codices. The text has auguries that helped priests make predictions. It's 11 sections includes rituals for the gods Kukulcán and Itzamná, bad omens concerning crops and offerings that should be made to regularize rain; o a katún of 52 ritual years; and hunting, calendars, death and purification, among other themes.  The origin of the Madrid Codex is unclear. It has been provisionally sited in the west of the Yucatán Peninsula in Champotón, Mexico, and dated to the 13th and 15th centuries.
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