The New Year Pages of the Dresden Codex and the Concept of Co-essence

Author(s): Merideth Paxton

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Animal Symbolism in Postclassic Mesoamerica: Papers in Honor of Cecelia Klein" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The Dresden Codex is a Postclassic Maya document that is thought to have originated in the Yucatán Peninsula. The opossum figures in the panels at the tops of its section on the New Year (pages 25-28) are associated with the uayeb, the five nameless, unlucky days that mark the ends of the 365-day haabs. A glyph in the accompanying text, T572, was first read as the logograph WAY, a reference to the uayeb. Then, it became linked with T539 through study of such Classic period Southern Lowland monuments as Lintel 14 at Yaxchilán. This established that T539 is another logograph read as WAY (or UAY), with the meaning of co-essence. Thus, T572 came to be regarded as the codical variant of T539. Subsequent scholarly attention has focused on the latter sense, although the anthropomorphic opossums are now also described as naguals. The present research reexamines the symbolism underlying these invented creatures in the New Year pages and analyzes the use of T572 in that passage and in the general corpus of Maya hieroglyphic writing. I argue that co-essence is indeed the best classificatory term for the opossums and that the connection of T572 with the uayeb merits greater emphasis.

Cite this Record

The New Year Pages of the Dresden Codex and the Concept of Co-essence. Merideth Paxton. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451659)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.197; min lat: 16.004 ; max long: -86.682; max lat: 21.984 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23691