An Epoch of Miracles

An Epoch of Miracles : Oral Literature of the Yucatec Maya

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"Mr. Allan Burns, I am here to tell you an example, the example of the Hunchbacks." So said Paulino Yama, traditionalist and storyteller, to Allan Burns, anthropologist and linguist, as he began one story that found its way into this book. Paulino Yama was just one of several master storytellers from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico from whom Burns learned not only the Mayan language but also the style and performance of myths, stories, riddles, prayers, and other forms of speech of their people. The result is An Epoch of Miracles, a wonderfully readable yet thoroughly scholarly set of translations from the oral literature of the Yucatec Maya, an important New World tradition never before systematically described. An Epoch of Miracles brings us over thirty-five long narratives of things large, small, strange, and "regular" and as many delightful short pieces, such as bird lore, riddles, and definitions of anteaters, rainbows, and other commonplaces of the Mayan world. Here are profound narratives of the Feathered Serpent, the mighty Rain God Chac and his helpers, and the mysterious cult of the Speaking Cross. But because these are modern, "Petroleum Age" Maya, here too are a discussion with Cuba's Fidel Castro and a greeting to former president Richard Nixon. All pieces are translated ethnopoetically; examples of several genres are presented bilingually. An especially valuable feature is the indication of performance style, such as pauses and voice quality, given with each more

Product details

  • Paperback | 282 pages
  • 149.86 x 226.06 x 22.86mm | 430.91g
  • University of Texas Press
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0292735936
  • 9780292735934

Table of contents

* Foreword, by Dennis Tedlock * Acknowledgments *1. Introduction * The Mayan Tradition * The Yucatec Maya * Speaking Mayan * Yucatec Mayan Ethnopoetics * Dialogue * Oral Features of Performance in Translation * Yucatec Mayan Oral Literature *2. Ancient Conversations * Origin Stories in the Form of Lessons * Conversations in Mayan * Conversations among People * Big Things * How Just One Poor Man Lives * Things That Happen to You * The Old Lady of Mani * Stories about the Ancient Times * Where the Sacred Corn Seed Was Taken, I * Where the Sacred Corn Seed Was Taken, II * The Epoch of Miracles * The Story of the Hunchbacks (with Mayan transcription) * Santo Muerte * Jesus Christ *3. Counsels * Narratives about Mayan Political History * The History of Don Francisco Xiu * The First Thing I Said to Dr. Morley * The Patron, I * The Story of Venancio Puc * The Patron, II * Divination and Signs * Signs, I * Signs, II *4. Secrets * Two Deer Stories * The Man Who Was Such a Hunter * The Deer Secret * A Secret about Rainfall * The Owners of Rain (with Mayan transcription) * An Orpheus Story * A Person of the Milpa and an Evil Thing and a Priest and a Small Friend * Frightening Things and Wizards * Just Things That Frighten One * Wizards *5. Stories * A Story about Mistaken Identity * San Antonio * A Story about a Trickster and a Priest * Ahau * A Story about a Vulture's Clothes * A Vulture, a Dove, and a Squirrel * A Story about an Unusual Marriage * A Person and a Vulture * A Story about an Attempt to Ward off Death * Saint Death * A Story about Heroic Adventures * The Seven Towers of Marble *6. The Milpa Story * The Story of the Milpa * A Milpero *7. Wordplay * Riddles * A Song * The Armadillo * Jokes * The Joke about the Anniversary * The Joke about the Woman and Her Children * The Joke about an Old Man Who Went to Merida for a Year * Bird Lore * The Sacred Mockingbirds * Tasapatan * A Dove * The Woodpecker * The Thrush * The Cardinal * Definitions * Ho, Cul, Uxmal * Tabi * Odor * Path * Things * Hail * Rainbow * Anteater * Shade * Perhaps *8. The Feathered Serpent * The Last Story of the Feathered Serpent * Colas (with Mayan transcription) *9. Discussion * Works Citedshow more

About Dennis Tedlock

Allan F. Burns is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida, more