379 pages filled with color photographs, notes, information in two languages ((Yucatec) Lacandon Maya and English) make this frankly the best Maya ethnobotany report I have yet found.
The several other excellent ethnobotany reports on individual Mayan language groups elsewhere lack the color photographs that fill this book page after page. Most photos are better than average but what counts is the sheer quantity of images (which are much more helpful than black-and-white botanical drawings in most cases).
Plus the lists of plants are listed in a manner that makes it easy to find a plant you are interested in, or you can search by the Lacandon Maya term.
The Forest of the Lacandon Maya an ethnobotanical guide, by Suzanne Cook also has audio-visual recordings as active links. Published by Springer. We hope to do a complete review later.
Another reason this book is important is due to all the misunderstanding of Plumeria due to J. Eric S. Thompson's continuous misinterpretation of the Plumeria (a five-petaled flower) as source of the Kin glyph (a four-petaled flower). Many Lacandon flowers have been misinterpreted by scholars who did not have experience with flowers or plants, and who simply kept quoting the same mistakes of earlier writers.
Most students and many professors nowadays know how to render archaeological objects in 3D. But if you wish to learn new techniques, and see new software and hardware, it is useful to attend SIGGRAPH 2016 in California.
We at FLAAR Reports have attended several times and two of our Assistant Research Editors will attend this summer.
There are two parts to SIGGRAPH: conferences and trade show. Both are worth attending. Here you can learn how to render artifacts or entire pyramid temples. Plus you can learn to animate them. Or how to recreate them with a 3D printer. Conferences are five educational days, 24-28 July, Anaheim, California.
SIGGRAPH exhibition is 26-28 July.
There are various web sites, one is www.s2016.siggraph.org.
We hope to see you there in July.
We continue to find and photograph 4-petaled flowers native to the Mayan areas of Guatemala. These are to assist iconographers and epigraphers to recognize the 4-petaled flowers on Tepeu 2 (Late Classic) Maya ceramic vases, bowls, and plates.
I am interested in 4-petaled flowers because several 9th century bowls and vases in Tikal Burial 196, “Tomb of the Jade Jaguar,” were decorated with flowers of four petals.
Obviously not every species we find in El Peten or Izabal or Alta Verapaz are the precise model, but when you add all the 4-petaled flowers we have found so far, yes, you do see all the original flowers which inspired the details on the Maya ceramic vases, bowls, and plates.
So we show here a photograph of a flower found near Posada El Caribe, Arroyo Petexbatun (an hour or so by boat from Sayaxche).
Circa 150 pages, over ONE THOUSAND illustrations.
This was part of Frank E. Comparato’s monumental edition of the Bowditch supervised English translation of Seler’s Gesamelte Abhandlungen zur Amerikanischen Sprach- und Alterthumskunde.
Frank E. Comparato was Field Director of the five season project at Yaxha which resulted in the comprehensive map of Yaxha by Miguel Orrego and Nicholas Hellmuth. This map by the FLAAR team is used around the world still today (though often without citation as to where it originated).
Frank Comparato then continued as manager of FLAAR for many years. Independently he founded LABYRINTHOS and in the late 1990’s published six volumes of Seler’s monographs. LABYRINTHOS also published dozens of other books.
Last May (2015) Frank Comparato passed away, unmentioned to the world of Mayanists. As a tribute to the dedication of Frank Comparato to Mayan research publications, we at FLAAR wish to offer results of his years, of his decades of work in electronic format.
Scanning books is easy, but to reproduce them in MS Word requires that every single page be proofread and each word be corrected, by hand. This is because even relatively good scanning software is never perfect, especially for words with accents or words from foreign languages.
Why do we not just do a cheap scan and dump the results on the Internet? Look at all the million-dollar funded scanning projects (of the botanical monographs of Standley and Steyermark, for example): they dump uncorrected scans, filled with spelling errors. We are not doing our scanning to earn money; our work is to make educational material available to students worldwide, especially students of Guatemala.
So it takes over a month to scan and proofread to correct the approximately 150 pages. We are hoping to raise funds to cover this expense.
We thank Charles Comparato, the son of Frank Comparato, for permission to make the chapter on animals, reptiles, birds, available especially to students, scholars, and the interested lay public at no cost. Too many peer-reviewed journals squewer Mayanists by gouging students and professors outrageous money-grubbing sums for a single several page article.
Here at FLAAR Reports, we prefer to make a 150 page article available so that students can learn about the Maya (and Aztec) in a modern manner (namely on their iPads or iPhones or comparable tablets).
The Olmec vulcanized rubber 3000 years before Charles Goodyear was credited with “inventing” vulcanization of rubber.
The Classic Maya vulcanized rubber the same way as the earlier Olmecs. And the Aztec were still vulcanizing rubber when the Spanish conquered the Mesoamerican empires.
So why was Goodyear credited with “inventing” vulcanization of rubber? Because in 1832 people in the US of A were not yet familiar with the Spanish historians who discussed the many cultures who knew how to vulcanize rubber (for thousands of years).
Michael J. Tarkanian did his BA thesis on rubber processing in ancient Mesoamerica in 2000 and then his MS thesis on rubber technology in the Americas in 2003 (both at MIT). These theses are both a summary of what the Spanish chroniclers documented, plus field work by Tarkanian in Chiapas, where rubber is still vulcanized in the pre-Columbian manner of the Olmecs, Maya, and Aztecs.
By coincidence we found the plant used to provide sulfur for the vulcanization process growing next to our office. So we have been photographing (in stop-action sequence) the flowers as they open. So we will have lots of news on the vulcanization plant (the sulfur comes from the vine, not the flower, but the way the flowers open is noteworthy).
While driving through Paso Caballos, Peten, we noticed that about 80% of the Q’eqchi’ Mayan houses had palm thatch roofs. Of these, an estimated 40% had tin lamina across the very top, but at least half the thatch huts had palm thatch all the way to the top, including the delicate crest area.
Guano palm thatch-roofed Q’eqchi’ Mayan house, Paso Caballos, Peten, facing the Rio San Pedro Martyr.
After driving and walking through the village with the local Q’eqchi’ Mayan guide, we could document that 100% of the thatch appeared to be guano palm (Sabal species). In other words, there was no junco “palm” here, and no corozo palm.
Several days later, while driving back to Guatemala City, we noticed that in the area of Candelaria Campo Santo that more than half the Q’eqchi’ Mayan houses here had corozo palm thatch roofs. But one house was of grass (Ak in Q’eqchi’). Since we wanted to reach Coban before dark, we did not walk around the settlement to see what other kinds or thatch we could find (we know many of the local people here since we have been spending weekends in this area for over six years).
So for architects and ethnobotanists who seek to study house architecture of the Maya, here are two places where you can find dozens of houses with the most common palm: guano in one village and corozo in another.
We have also found a town far away where at least 30% of the roofs are ak. In other areas a few are ak grass but most others palm.
Last year we found another town where most of the thatch roofs are junco “palm” (“ “ because junco is neither a true palm nor even a tree; but it looks identical to guano palm, until you see the flowers). In the same village of junco, other roofs are of corozo palm.
And we have found another settlement area where most of the roofs are palma real.
Although they are called “black panthers” in fact they are melanistic jaguars. The spots are still fully present (just hard to notice if the surrounding far is dark).
So black panthers (black jaguars) are natural and native to Guatemala (and to all the other parts of the New World where jaguars roam the rain forests).
We will be visiting a black panther this week and look forward to the experience.
Black jaguars come in “solid black” and gray (of various darknesses, depending on the DNA heritage). Even in “solid black” jaguars, the spots are still visible if you realize the spots are there. If you think it is a black panther, you will not notice the spots (until someone points them out).
Drawing by Josefina Sequen, Kakchiquel Mayan intern at FLAAR; both scientific illustrator and cartoon illustrator. Electronic drawing using pen tablet, based on photos available on the Internet (since black jaguars are rare in Guatemala).
Our storyboards show black panthers, gray jaguars, white jaguars, and regular jaguars to make the point that “species come in all colors, and to assume one color is king and the other color is not worthy is both egotistical and biologically not always accurate.”
A black panther is actually a melanistic jaguar, a jaguar with a special gene(s). All spots are fully present, but can only be seen in certain angles of light. Head tends to look the most solid black. We appreciate the hospitality of the staff at FAE (Fundacion Protectora de Animales en Vias de Extincion).
Since Flor de MAYO obviously blooms in May, we have been focusing on studying Plumeria species eco-systems most of May and June. We have been curious to see whether all Plumeria (in Guatemala) prefers dry desert-like regions (filled with cactus plants).
Now in July, about 50% of the trees (out in the wild) no longer have flowers, but enough still have flowers even in early July that we discovered wild Plumeria in a totally unexpected area of Guatemala: high elevation; lots of rain; no cactus plants anywhere nearby.
And these were wild plants, not house decoration.
We will have lots of information on Plumeria eco-systems available to botanists, students of biology, and people around the world who are interested in flowers (especially flowers of the Mayan-speaking areas of Mesoamerica).
Because J. Eric S. Thompson totally misunderstood Flor de Mayo flowers, and because he was totally unaware of true 4-peteled flowers for the origin of the Kin hieroglyph, we have been working to rectify the decades of mistaken identifications.
The Plumeria flower is also consistently mangled in most dissertations and monographs on the Lacandon Maya.
So for several years we have been out in the cacti and spiny Ceiba aesculifolia thorn forests of the most dry areas of Guatemala, to study Plumeria species. Plus we are also studying yellow, magenta, rose, pink, and dark red color Plumeria species varieties (which never grow wild in Guatemala; these are only in gardens around people's houses).
As soon as funding becomes available, we wish to produce a photographic monographic on Plumeria flowers and symbolism of Mesoamerica.
The leaves of this rare tree, Curatella americana, are used as sandpaper by the Maya people of Guatemala.
Other parts of the plant are medicinal, and other parts (bark) are used to fix colorants (from other plants) for dying native cloth.
By sheer luck, the day we arrived to inspect this chaparro tree, it was in its last days of giving clumps of flowers. The structure of the bud, flower, and growth of the seed pod are worthy of further botanical research.