One evening, during the first Cracow Maya Conference, a small group of workshop tutors and local organisers, met for a few drinks at the aptly named “Pierwszy lokal na Stolarskiej po lewej stronie idąc od Małego Rynku” (‘First Place on Stolarska on the left side, while going away from the Mały Rynek [‘small market’]’), or the ‘The Long Name Bar’ for the faint-hearted. During this festive evening there was much talk about the event the following year, which would formally mark the 2nd Cracow Maya Conference and as such, part of a series of annual events. It was at this juncture that the idea of elaborating a logo was put on the proverbial table. Several ideas were thrown around, but that which all present cheerfully endorsed was the sketch, quickly rendered on a napkin, representing the first draft of the logo we now know:
The logo is a combination of four glyphs of the Classic Maya hieroglyphic writing system, including three logograms (word signs) and a phonogram (sound sign). Together these can be transliterated as KAL-wi-K’AK’-CHAPAT, to be transcribed and read as kalaaw k’ahk’ chapaht. The glyphs used for the logo are part of lengthier texts found on a vase discovered in 2010 in a remote cave in Belize, named Cuychen. Each of the four glyphic signs employed in the logo are found on the actual Cuychen vase, although these are here combined in a novel way. Cuychen relates to the Cracow Maya Conference in that the results of the archaeological investigations at the cave were first presented at this conference (Helmke et al. 2011) and the accompanying iconography and epigraphy of the vessel was described during the intermediate workshop co-tutored by Christophe Helmke and Harri Kettunen (2011). The logo owes not only its style to the glyphs found on the Cuychen vessel, but also the heretofore unattested antipassive inflection of the verb kal ‘to hack, axe’, written with the wi syllabogram, cueing the suffix –aaw. If this exceptional spelling were not stunning enough, it was rendered in three separate captions on this unique vase! A brief analysis of kalaaw, allows us to propose the morphological segmentation kal-aaw-Ø, the analysis axe-apass-3sa, and the literal translation ‘axes-he’. Here, as in the original text, we have an object-incorporating verbal construction, which means that the direct object of the clause is integrated into the verb. In this case the object is the k’ahk’ chapaht, literally a ‘fire centipede’, a neologism for the Old World term ‘dragon’, that is evidently lacking in the known corpus of Maya texts. Here, however, we should not think of small centipedes, but instead of monstrous serpentine and partly skeletonised mythic beats, since this is how the ancient Maya conceived these creatures (see Taube 2003: 406-418; Kettunen and Davis 2004). All in all, the logo can thus be read as kalaaw k’ahk’ chapaht and literally translated as ‘axes fire-centipede him’ or in freer prose: ‘he slays the dragon’. But who is this figure who is said to slay the dragon? For this we need to turn to the founding mythology of Cracow, and the etymology of the place name Kraków.
Fragment of an article “ON THE LOGO OF THE CRACOW MAYA CONFERENCEAND THE ETYMOLOGY OF KRAKÓW” by Christophe Helmke (University of Copenhagen, Denmark) and Jarosław Źrałka (Jagiellonian University, Poland), printed in Contributions in New World Archaeology No. 5.
To see the full version of the article about CMC logo click HERE.
HELMKE, CHRISTOPHE, JAIME J. AWE AND SHAWN G. MORTON
2011 The archaeology & epigraphy of Cuychen, Macal Valley, Belize. 1st Cracow Maya Conference: Archaeology and Epigraphy of the Eastern Central Maya Lowlands, Cracow: Department of New World Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology, Jagiellonian University, Feb. 25th.
HELMKE, CHRISTOPHE AND HARRI KETTUNEN
2011 Where Atole Abounds: Naranjo during the Reign of K’ahk’ Tiliw Chan Chahk. 1st Cracow Maya Conference: The Archaeology and Epigraphy of the Eastern Central Maya Lowlands, 25-27th of February. Cracow: Department of New World Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology, Jagellonian University.
TAUBE, KARL A.
2003 Maws of Heaven and Hell: The Symbolism of the Centipede and Serpent in Classic Maya Religion. Antropología de la eternidad: la muerte en la cultura maya, edited by Andrés Ciudad Ruiz, Mario Humberto Ruz Sosa and María Josefa Iglesias Ponce de León, pp. 405-442. Madrid: Sociedad Española de Estudios Maya & Centro de Estudios Mayas.
KETTUNEN, HARRI AND BON V. DAVIS III
2004 Snakes, Centipedes, Snakepedes, and Centiserpents: Conflation of Liminal Species in Maya Iconography and Ethnozoology. Wayeb Notes 9: 1-42.