Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mayan Animal Hieroglyphic Glyphs of Deer

Yucatan Deer (Odocoileus yucatanensisO. thomasi). Several species of small deer (Maya, ke) occur in Mexico and Central America whose relationships are not yet thoroughly understood (Pls. 30-32). The species of Yucatan and southern Mexico have small lyrate antlers with few, short tines, rather different from the broader type of the more northern species with well developed secondary tines. The former type of antlers seems to be indicated by the conventionalized structure shown in, figs. 8-12. These probably represent the Yucatan deer or its ally Thomas’s deer of southern Mexico. Two of the figures, both from the Nuttall Codex, show the lower incisor teeth , figs. 8, 11), though in other cases these are omitted. The larger part of the figures of deer represent the does which have no antlers. For this reason it is impossible to distinguish females of the brocket from those of the other species of deer, if indeed, the Mayas themselves made such a distinction. The characteristics of deer drawings are the long head and ears, the prominently elevated tail with the hair bristling from its posterior side (the characteristic position of the tail when the deer is running), the hoofs, and less often the presence of incisors in the lower jaw only and of a curious oblong mark at each end of the eye, possibly representing the large tear gland.
The deer plays a large part in the Maya ceremonials. It is an important, perhaps the most important animal offering as a sacrifice to the gods. Several pages of the Tro-Cortesianus (38-49) are given over to the hunt and the animal usually represented is the deer, the hunters are shown, the methods of trapping, the return from the chase, and the rites in connection with the animals slain. Tro-Cortesianus
[349] 48b shows the usual method of trapping where the deer is caught by a cord around one of the fore legs. Tro-Cortesianus 91a pictures the same method and 92a shows where the deer is caught on a spike in another type of trap. In Tro-Cortesianus 86a  the deer appears with a rope around his body held by a god who is not easily identified.
Interesting descriptions of the hunt are given in several of the early accounts. It will be noted that the hunt was usually connected with the religious rites and the offering of deer meat and various parts of the body of the deer had a ceremonial importance. Attention is called to similar[350] practices among the Lacandones, the inhabitants of the region of the Usumacinta at the present time (Tozzer, 1907), where the greater part of the food of the people must, first of all, be offered to the gods before it may be eaten by the natives.