Author of the Month

Biological Knowledge of Ancient Meso-American Indians
Summary of Maciej Kuczyński's book "Czciciele węża"
("Worshippers of the Serpent" or “Veneradores de la Serpiente”), Warszawa 1990. (cont.)
By Maciej Kuczyński

The reading of the pictographs begins in the bottom left corner. The process is animated by the invisible, therefore black, `spirits'. Amazonian tribes call these spirits visible only in shamanic trance and present in plants, animals and all parts of the human body - yoshi or maninkari).

Figure 10

The 20 identical signs (10d) in the left bottom corner can be read as equivalents of the 20 aminoacids most commonly used for protein synthesis. Above, (1e), there is a frame divided into 4 coloured fields, or tlapapalli, the striped thing, symbolising the strand with linearly arranged information. Here it consists of only 4 colours corresponding to the 4 bases coding for the sequence of aminoacids in the protein chain. To the right appears tlapapalli (10f) with only 3 fields of 3 colours, as codons specific for each one of the 20 aminoacids, consists of 3 bases.

The black “spirit”, (f), is shown with its finger pointing upwards at the bunch of malinalli on top of a set of stylised feathers of the Feathered Serpent, (10l), which is the personification of the chromosome ( 1 ).

As already indicated, malinalli, the twisted thing, represents the double helix of DNA. From between the leaves of malinalli, a stream of red blood flows meaning that the twisted thing generated “blood or living flesh” (acc. to Edward Seler). In other words, the double helix structure has generated (stimulated the generation of) an organism.

To the far right (i), a fragment of the precious vessel is visible to inform that the events described have their place in the cell.

In the upper part of the page the “stepped fret” patterns are visible. These symbolise building blocks of the “temple of life” or the earthly body. In the context of the whole they might be represenations of the protein particles.

The whole process results in the original production of the bush of agave presented in two projections (s, w) framed by “protein blocks”.

An adequate spoken commentary to the drawings are the words of an Aztec song honouring the god of corn, Xochipilli:

“The god of corn (thus the corn plant) is born
In the fog and water place
Where human children are being made
In Michoacan of the precious stone”.

Michoacan is a mythical “place of descent” of the new born from heavens to the earth (acc. to E. Seler and Piña Chan). This place of birth is identified here as a nucleus of the precious stone or a germ cell, where obviously plants and people originate.

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