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.
Sorry it has taken two decades to find and scan these negatives. And we have still not found them all. We have an outstanding scanner (CreoScitex) and an experienced scanner operator (Cami). But no funds for scanning them.
Of course the images are several decades old, so a tad dusty. But not many people have had the patience to use high resolution cameras, and definitely no one has set up a "tripod" five meters up in the air, so we could photograph straight down onto the stela (which is on the ground).
It is traditional to turn a set of negatives into the Belize authorities as part of the project, and if they still exist we would be glad to scan them and give these scans to Belize. But in the meantime, we are still searching for all our negatives. We found about a dozen of them, so are scanning these as examples.
In the 1980's, with the support of capable Mexican archaeologists in both Campeche and Yucatan, of INAH, and Dr William Folan (who at that time was headquartered in Campeche), FLAAR initiated a project to encourage the restoration of the palace of Santa Rosa Xtampak by documenting the fragile status (in other words, to document clearly that unless the palace could be restored quickly, the major parts would collapse).
We used Leica and Hasselblad cameras to record at high resolution the remaining standing architecture. Plus we had recently acquired a 15mm wide angle lens for a Nikon. Some rooms were so narrow they required this kind of lens (fish eye is too distorted; 15mm or 17mm is less distortion). Today we would use a tilt-and-shift 17mm lens for a Canon.
We published four volumes plus Jack Sulak has at least one volume. We are now scanning all five reports to issue them as electronic PDFs. We are trying to locate the original negatives and scan them at high resolution. So far we have found only a dozen of the estimated 100 to 200 original photographs (but something is better than nothing).
During March and April we hope to make these dozen photographs available to students and scholars in Mexico via our web site.
The palace architecture and temples at Santa Rosa Xtampak have features of both Chenes architecture and potentially influence of Rio Bec style. In fact there are probably some traits shared with Puuc style: would be a good dissertation topic to tabulate all three styles using intermediate sites in Campeche, Mexico as examples. In other words, would be helpful to document which features of the palace and temple architecture of Santa Rosa Xtampak are shared with Chenes, which features are potentially influenced from Rio Bec ("towers" on front facades), and which aspects of masonry or size or shape of vaults are shared with Rio Bec.
This research is best done by scholars who have access to all the key sites and access to all the photo archives: Carnegie Institution of Washington, architect George Andrews, Gendrop, Karl Herbert Mayer, as well as capable projects from Germany, Slovenia, and Mexico.
We have thousands of photographs of Puuc, Chenes, and Rio Bec architecture, but really need donations or grants to allow us to find, catalog, scan, and make available all these photographs to Mexico. But with the dozen photographs of wooden lintels of Santa Rosa Xtampak, we wish to indicate that we really wish to share our material so that students and scholars can utilize it to advance studies of the remarkable palace and temple architecture of Campeche, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo.