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Kaqchikel Chronicles. The Definitive Edition

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Kaqchikel Chronicles. The Definitive Edition
with Translation and Exegesis by Judith M. Maxwell and Robert M. Hill II. (University of Texas Press, Austin: 2006. Pg. 691. 1 map, 5 charts, 6 tables.) ISBN: 0-292-71270-7.

Reviewed by Herbert White - October 3, 2006

Two collections of documents, the Annals of the Kaqchikels (Cakchiquels) and the Títulos de Xpantzay (Xpantzay Carulary) are some of the best known examples of primary source documents related to the Kaqchikel Maya. Collectively, these two sets of documents are known as the Kaqchikel Chronicles, and they were written primarily in the sixteenth and seventeenth century.

This 'Definitive Edition' of the Kaqchikel Chronicles represents the first translation of all texts contained in the Chronicles. The translation and exegesis of the Chronicles in this edition were composed by Judith M. Maxwell and Robert M. Hill II, both of whom are Professors of Anthropology at Tulane University in New Orleans. The texts are organized into blocks consisting of four lines each. "The first line is a transliteration from the colonial orthography to the current official Kaqchikel. The second line provides a morpheme-by morpheme breakdown. The third line glosses each morpheme, providing translations of the core semantic range of the roots and grammatical descriptions of the affixes. The fourth line provides a free translation. In providing a "free" translation, we have stayed as close as grammatically possible to the original Kaqchikel word ordering." (pgs. 23-23.)

The book itself is divided into two main parts. Part one of the book provides details on how the book is organized and how the translations were completed. This section also included details about the various translations of the Kaqchikel Chronicles, and the ideological and historical basis of these translations. Background information on the Kaqchikel's history and culture, as well as linguistic and writing system, are provided. Information about Colonial Kaqchikel grammar, word order, Nahuatl influences, and lexical changes are also provided, along with a brief bibliography related to the Chronicles. This background information, combined with extensive footnotes, provides a historical and contextual backdrop that serves as a solid foundation from which the reader can better understand and appreciate the importance of these Chronicles.

The second part of the book contains the most important element of this text - the translation of the actual Chronicles. The Annals of the Kaqchikels consists of the: The Xpantzay Carulary consists of the following documents: This translation will be of most interest to scholars in a variety of fields, including Mesoamerican studies, Maya history, linguistics, and anthropology. While perhaps of most interest to academicians, this text will also enthrall general readers with an interest in Maya culture and history, or who are simply looking for a unique book to read. The Kaqchikel Chronicles cover a broad swath of Kaqchikel Maya history, both pre and post Spanish Invasion, and it includes accounts of wars, migrations, songs, religious rites, political strife, and much more. This book is by far 'the' definitive translation of the Kaqchikel Chronicles, and one of the most edifying and complete editions of the Chronicles. As such, this is a must have book for both personal and public libraries that addresses Maya studies. It is also required reading for anyone with an interest in Maya studies. This book will also serve as an invaluble study aid for anyone learning Kaqchikel Mayan.


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