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THE “ECLIPSE GLYPH” IN MAYA TEXT AND ICONOGRAPHY: A CENTURY OF MISINTERPRETATION

  • Bruce Love (a1)

Abstract

The “eclipse glyph,” as it is called by most people in our field, is not referring to eclipses, but rather to the darkened sun and moon associated with heavy rainfall or darkened skies. This glyph is composed of the sun sign or moon sign (occasionally others) between two flanking fields, usually one light and one dark, and is found principally in the Postclassic divinatory almanacs of the Maya codices. Evidence for this proposal comes from iconography as well as texts. Rain pours from “eclipse glyphs” in pictures accompanied by hieroglyphic captions explicitly dealing with rain; they also appear in calendrical sequences that could not possibly be referring to eclipses. Even in the lunar or eclipse pages in the Dresden Codex that deal with solar eclipses, the texts that accompany the “eclipse glyphs” are about rain. A search of Classic-period antecedents suggests a linguistic value yihk'in, meaning “darkened” or “darkening.”

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THE “ECLIPSE GLYPH” IN MAYA TEXT AND ICONOGRAPHY: A CENTURY OF MISINTERPRETATION

  • Bruce Love (a1)

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