The Comalcalco bricks make it clear that the Mayan Indians taught many different forms of writing at their Universities. The "Salazar Brick" is a bilingual Olmec-Maya text. Decipherment of this brick allows us to read the Mayan inscriptions by looking at the syllabic signs contained in the Mayan heiroglyphics.
The Mayans had a syllabic writing systems model on the Olmec script. An examination of the Ekchuan 'Black Trader' God and inscriptions from the Codex Tro-Crotesianus will be used to support this hypothesis.
Bishop Diego de Landa recorded a Maya script of 29 signs. Many scholars using Landa's alphabet have been unable to read the entire script. The syllabic nature of the Mayan writing explains the more than 287 characters associated with this writing, not including variants which appear in the Maya Codices. The reason we have so many Mayan signs results from the uniting of groups of syllables to make Maya words and sentences.
Landa made it clear that the Maya script was made up of drawings and signs within the drawings (Tozzer, 1941:p.169). This point of Landa's presentation on the Mayan writing, led me to attempt to break down Maya glyphs into their constituent parts to try and determine if the smbols inside the glyphs that resembled Olmec signs, could be given Mayan phoneticization and read in Yucatec Mayan.
Rafinesque was sure the Mayan writing was related to the Libyco-Berber writing in Africa. Yuri Knorosov and Eric Thompson recognized the syllabic nature of Mayan writing. For example, Thompson hypothesized that the footprint sign from Landa's list called "B", represented the Yucatec word be 'road'.
I began my attempt to read Mayan inscriptions based on the work of Knorosov who read the inscriptions based on the context of the inscription. The best source of the Mayan syllabic signs is the codex Tro-Crotesianus. Here there is frequent mention of Ekchuah or God M. According to Sahagun, the first foreign merchants sold mantles (chimalli) and waistcloths (maxtli).
Leo Wiener in Mayan and Mexican Origins , and Ivan van Sertima, They came before Columbus , published several illustrations of Ekchuah. I read the Mayan inscriptions by giving each of the syllabic signs of the Maya syllables the phonemic value the identical sign in the Olmec writing. After transliterating the Mayan syllables, I read each syllable in Yucatec Maya.
In Mayan times, most items of trade were carried by boat. The major product involved in the native trade was cocao, a crop they only grew in watered field.
Though most trading was by sea a special group of merchants carried goods overland under the protection of the god Ekchuah. The Merchants of Ekchuah were guided along these perilous trails by the North Star: Xaman. Ekchuah was also the diety of cocao growers , probably because this group early monopolized.
In Mayan times cocao beans were used as currency or ta-kin . The god EkChuan appears seventeen times in the Madrid Codex and once in the Dresden codex.
Ekchuan and many of the merchants carrying goods are given African features and painted black. These merchants usually carries a corded hamper and pouch and flint-tipped spear with a headband on his head.
The God of the North was called Xaman. Xaman is associated with richness and abundance. Below we use the syllabic method to read the Mayan Codex.
This panel reads : "The merchants of the god Ekchuah (come carrying) fine skins (co) (and) bitter cocao beans (ki ta kin). The cocao beans are shelled (po'o). (They are) Priest of the divinity (and) exist in a unique state. (They represent) Xaman god of the North".
There is another interesting inscription about the Afro-Mexicans from the Tro-Crotesianus codex.
In this inscription we can easily break down each glyph into there syllabic parts.
We can read this inscription moving from right to left. There are four rows of inscriptions. Row 1, is on the far right side of the panel. Row2, is the glyphs written above the fire stick. Row 3 consist the symbols on the immediate left side of the panel and; row 4, is the group of glyphs on the far left side of the panel.
Let's transliterate the signs
- i yu
- ta zay
- Chikin sign
- Sign of Ekchuah (Ta Fa gyo).
- Yum Kaaz (Lord of the North)
- Eb day sign
- ta zay co
"Row 1: These thick men (came to) the marketplace of Mayaland.(?)....Their thick pouches (full of goods) they were assembled at the Chikin market.
Row 2: Long ago the Merchants of Ekchuah transported (goods to the) gods.
Row 3: Thick men (came) to the market (from the) East. Pouches came to the market from the Lord of the North on Lamat day.
Row 4: They carry and transport (to the market) thick pouches assembled (with) skins (inside). (The merchants appeared on ) Eb (the lucky market day). They went to the May (Priest) (to) present bitter wine (at the temple)."
A.M. Tozzer (Ed.). Landa's Relacion de las Casas de Yucatan: A translation. Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology. Cambridge 1941.