Commentary on the Maya Manuscript in the Royal Public Library of Dresden
PEABODY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ARCHAEOLOGY AND
ETHNOLOGY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY
VOL. IV.—No. 2
ROYAL PUBLIC LIBRARY OF DRESDEN
DR. ERNST FÖRSTEMANN
MISS SELMA WESSELHOEFT
MISS A. M. PARKER
Translation revised by the Author
Published by the Museum
In pursuance of the plan of publishing translations of valuable contributions to the study of the Maya hieroglyphs, the Museum Committee on Central American Research has the pleasure of offering the following translation of Dr. Ernst Förstemann's important Commentary on the Maya Manuscript in the Royal Library of Dresden, generally known as the Dresden Codex.
The translation by Miss Selma Wesselhoeft and Miss A. M. Parker was made under the direction of Mr. Charles P. Bowditch of the Museum Committee.
In the original German edition, published in 1901, Dr. Förstemann used the Arabic numerals to designate the days, but in this translation, with the consent of the author who has kindly revised the translation, Mr. Bowditch has substituted the corresponding Maya names of the days, in uniformity with the general use of students in this country. It is needless to call attention to the importance of this paper by Dr. Förstemann whose long-continued study of the intricate system of hieroglyphic writing by the ancient Mayas makes all he writes of great value to students engaged in this most interesting research.
- F. W. Putname.
Some of those who examine this book will say, that it is too early for a commentary on the "Dresdensis," since Maya research is yet in its infancy, and this opinion is certainly justified inasmuch as a final explanation of that remarkable monument is, of course, impossible at the present time. On the other hand the accounts of the numerous investigations and discoveries which have been made thus far are so isolated and so scattered in the shape of a hundred short magazine articles, that it is certainly desirable to have what we know and what we have still to learn gathered together under one head. This book is intended, therefore, to give an idea of the state of our knowledge in this department of research at this time, when the nineteenth century is passing into the twentieth, with the definite expectation that this work will soon be far outstripped and will possess an historical value only.
The contents of the following pages are of very little value, unless the student can compare them with an edition of the manuscript. My first edition was published in 1880 at Leipsic and the second at Dresden in 1892. The edition in Lord Kingsborough's "Mexican Antiquities" (in Volume III of that work, London, 1831) is still of practical use.
And since in this work I must premise a knowledge of the elements of the subject, I would recommend, as additional aids to the comprehension of the following pages, my "Erläuterungen zur Mayahandschrift der Königlichen öffentlichen Bibliothek zu Dresden" (Dresden, 1886), and also Brinton, "A Primer of Mayan Hieroglyphics" (in the publications of the University of Pennsylvania. Series in Philology, Literature and Archaeology, Vol. III). I would also mention the very valuable work by Paul Schellhas, "Die Göttergestalten der Mayahandschriften" (Dresden, 1897), which I follow in the designation of the various gods by letters of the alphabet.
It need hardly be pointed out, that the numerous pioneer articles by Edward Seler offer abundant instruction to the student in this field as well as in that of Aztec remains.
I wish to express heartfelt thanks to Mrs. Zelia Nuttall and Mr. Charles P. Bowditch, who have aided my work in various ways and have thus rendered possible the publication of this book.
- E. Förstemann.
The numbers in the first column refer to the pages of the Manuscript, and those in the second column to the pages of the Commentary.
GLYPHS REFERRED TO IN THE TEXT.