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Preliminary Notes on the Classic Maya Expressions for Ball Court

Preliminary Notes on the Classic Maya Expressions for Ball Court
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  N~~~H~ w~ Christian Prager, Switzerland 16 November 1995 PRELIMINARY NOTES ON THE CLASSIC MAYA EXPRESSION FOR BALL COURT 1 With this paper we would like to suggest a new reading for the ball court glypli . The semantic sense of this glyph has been recognized long ago, but no satisfying Iogographie value has been found yet. 1.) Our 'main argument for the new reading appears on page 70 of the Dresden Codex. In the first row of this page the raingodchak sits on a ball court. In his hands he's holding a ball. The text over the scene gives a description what's happening with the rain god. After the verb 3, that is eroded here, we have a phonetic glyph context: a-la-wa pi-tzi-la chak-ki alaw, ball Chak . t is clear that the expression alaw must describe the location, since in the whole context, all the glyph appearing after the verb do describe the location where Chac is taking action. We now think that this alaw is the name for ball court . We also think that the final-w may be replaced by -b, since both consonant are exchangeable as final consonant, as in k' anhalab ( dassie name of month Pop) that is also written k'anhalaw (see Thompson 1950, Fig. 16). Basedonthese arguments we think that alaw alab was one the name of the ball court. Dresden Codex, 70a Detail of page 70a a-la-wa pi-tzi-la 1 The results of this note are based on discussions between Daniel Grafia Behrens, Christian Prager and Elisabeth Wagner during the German Maya Weekend  in September 1995. But any mistake that may appear in this note is mine. 2 Schele read this glyph hom, based on a phonetic version at Yaxchilan. But this reading does not fit with the contexts with ball court  -na ni, and the contex1s with the bi infix. 3 The verb may be read ak' . First, the glyph has often a sign for the syllable a as prefix and secondly, on the Venus pages ofthe same codex I found a substitution ofthis glyph with the ak'ab glyph, that is sometimes used as ak' . The verb has not yet been deciphered to our satisfaction. But it is clear that is has something to do with to put something on a place or similar. In Tzotzil (Laughlin 1988, p 131) we have this entry: xk-ak' ta sba mesa I am putting it on the table or xk-ak' ta yut lum I am putting it underground . In the Dresden Codex we often have locative glyphs prefix by ti or ta . I wonder ifthis is not the same construction?  NDtt ~ H~ w~ Christian Prager, Switzerland 2) A further context that may indicate the Iogographie value alaw alab is on capstone 1, Chuncanob. Although the scenes are eroded the text is mainly visible. The ball court steps are prefixed y the phonetic ya and this may indicate alaw/b. In my view this arguments is less weaker, since this is not really the ball court glyph, but only a half of it. And Grube et al. have shown that steps have the Iogographie value eb. Further we also know that ya may also replace the expression y-ab his he . , as in y-ab k u hun . But no ab eb title is know or ab Ball court . So I think that this ya is simply a phonetic complement for the ball court abbreviated version. We also know that yV is introducing expressions with a vocal. The ball court glyph on Cps.1CHUNCANOB (after a photo y L Staines) 3) On UXM HS. 1 ( Chan Chimez ) there isaball court glyph with an interesting prefix, which is quite eroded. Using Ian Graham's drawing the syllable ha is visible, but on the srcinal stone the sign T228, a, is visible. But as long I have not checked this monument, this argument rests on shaky ground. On YUL Lnt. 1 4 we also have a variant ofthe ball court glyph. T534, Ia, is a su:ffix ofthe ball court glyph; this is very unusual, since on other monuments the su:ffix is nalni. I think that this is a further argument for the reading Yula Lnt. 1 UxmalHS. 1 On L 1 ofthe Temple ofFour Lintels at Chiehen Itza there is ball court glyph with the syllable bi infix. This seems tobe a further argument for alaw/alab. Chiehen Itza, L.1 Temple ofFour Lintels 4 After checking the lintels with Merle's rubbings I can confirm that this is Tl39, Ia. 2  T-rt to.l )M{ N6it4 ~ H~ w~ Christian Prager, Switzerland 3 4) Many ball courts glyph o conflict with our proposed value alawlb. Most have the prefix possessive u and a final -ni/na as postfix. This suggests that the ball court had once a value that had a consonant introduction. And this, of course, is a contradiction to our alawfb, or not? We know that the consonant h is quite weak, as in hul "to arrive". Instead oftbis the Mayas do also use ul "to arrive". We think that this is here also the case. The Reviewing Stand at Copan bears also an inscriptions with the "ball court" glyph. This variant is also very interesting, since it has the syllable bi infixed (this case is sirnilar to the one from L 1, T. of Four Lnt.) . This may be an indication to our alaw/ala_ . k -t · -  ~ I . , E~ Copan, Reviewing Stand Still in question is the appearance ofT23/116 nalni in some contexts. Possibly this is an abbreviated version of the kun glyph using only the suffix ni I na , since kun means "seat, place". A similar use ofthese suffixes may also be indicated in the glyphs for "Plaza": the "quadrifoil" sign with the ni or na su:flixes. Butthis is only speculation. o I~ So.r~of ,, . t ,, T ll.f ~n Jvt~o o opvt.s c. o.. L .. ~ o.~t~ Y . ~o,dot '' ct\a.s [ fv r (J.t b Ar SOOf CU ~ V(. wll ·J kt, ~h ( {,~J /) .J /, .( wolk ,yov w, [l ft. {.IV 0. r tW \;a.Jrr ott. eh· r:U-,
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