Escultura Huasteca en Piedra

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Author: de la Fuente, Beatriz (1929- ) and Nelly Guiterrez Solana

Year: 1980

Publisher: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM)

Place: Mexico City


468pp with 300 plates, indexes and bibliography. Royal octavo (9" x 6 3/4") issued in white wrappers with black lettering to spine and red and black lettering to front wrapper with black and grey pictorial. Institution de Investagaciones Esteticas, Cuadernos de historia del arte numbero 9. Limtied to 3000 copies. 1st edition.

Of all the languages descended from Proto-Mayan the proto-Huastecan language was the first to split from Mayan proper. (The second split, in the non-Huastecan main branch, was between proto-Yucatecan, now spoken across Yucatán, Mexico, and the ancestors of all other Maya languages. The only other language besides Huastec which arose from proto-Huastecan was Chicomuceltec (also called Cotoque), spoken in Chiapas near Comitan and which is now extinct.Linguists have approximated that the precursor to the language of the Huastecs diverged from the Proto-Mayan language between 2200 and 1200 BC. Pioneering comparative linguist Maurice Swadesh posited the later date as the latest possible time for this split to have occurred, and gave the Huastec/Chicomuceltec inik (“man”) versus other-Maya winik as a typical contrast (Wilkerson, p. 928). McQuown suggests 1500 BC, Manrique Castaneda 1800 BC, and Dahlin 2100 BC as the most likely dates for the split (Ochoa, p. 40; Dahlin, p. 367). Kaufman’s proposed date of about 2200 BC would require two regular phonological (sound) changes that are attested in all Maya languages, “r” changing to “y” and “q” to “k”, to have happened independently after the split, in both the Huastec/Chicomuceltec branch and in the branch of all other Maya languages (Campbell and Kaufman, p.195).Robertson’s work on verb affixes in the Maya languages implies that the Huastecs were in contact with proto-Tzeltal branch of Maya. In Proto-Mayan, absolutives could be marked either by a prefix or a suffix, depending on the presence of a tense/aspect marker. This feature was retained in Kanjobal (a Tzeltal-branch Maya language, spoken in the Cuchumatanes mountains of Guatemala), but lost in other branches (Yucatecan always uses a suffix for absolutives, while Ki’che always uses a prefix). Huastec appears to have been influenced by proto-Tzeltal, resulting in such innovations as the preposition ta, used with the object of a verb in the third person (Robertson, p. 307). If, as seems likely, the Huastec-Maya split occurred c. 2000 BC, the Huastecs did not probably travel far from the Guatemala-Chiapas borderlands until after about 1100 BC, by which time the proto-Tzeltalans had been established as a separate branch.The Huastecs arrived in the Huasteca between 1500 BC (Kaufman, p. 106) and 900 BC (Stresser-Pean). The linguistic evidence is corroborated by archaeological discoveries. In 1954, Richard MacNeish found ceramics and figurines in the Middle Formative period, called “Pavon de Panuco” in the Panuco River sites of the Huasteca, which resemble Preclassic objects from Uaxactun, a Peten-region Maya site (Ochoa, p. 42). A date of no earlier than 1100 BC for the Huastecs’ arrival at their present location seems most likely, since they probably had not arrived at the north-central Veracruz site of Santa Luisa until about 1200 BC, the phase at the end of the Early Formative period known locally as the “Ojite phase” (Wilkerson, p. 897). Artifacts of the period include Panuco-like basalt manos and metates (Wilkerson, p. 892). (The Huastecs remained in Santa Luisa, located east of Papantla near the Gulf coast, until supplanted or absorbed by the Totonacs around AD 1000).One nexus of carved iconographic traditions, the “yoke-palm-axe” complex, was found from Jaina Island in coastal Campeche to the Huasteca (and in between, in Aparicio, Veracruz), in association with the pelota ballgame, decapitation, and tooth mutilation (Ochoa, p. 43); however, this may reflect coastal trade contacts after the Huastecs were established in the Huasteca. Whether the proto-Huastecs split from the rest of the Maya in 2200 or in 1200 BC, the separation occurred at least a millennium before the rise of classic Maya culture. It is no surprise, therefore, that the word “to write” is different in proto-Huastec (θuc-) and in the other Maya language branch (c’ib) (Kaufman, p. 102).If we consider 2000 BC as a reasonable date for the Huastec/Maya split, and the slopes of the Cuchumatanes range as a reasonable location for the speakers of proto-Maya, it seems likely that the split occurred after these proto-Maya speakers (or a portion of them) began to migrate north, probably along the Usumacinta River, and before the two groups resulting from the split began to move in opposite directions: the proto-Huastec speakers moving northwest (and, soon thereafter, the proto-Chicomuceltec west into the Chiapas highlands), and the proto-Yucatec/other Maya-speakers spreading northeast (one branch of which became Chontal, presumed by many from its widespread loan words and hieroglyphic evidence to be the dominant language of the classic Peten Maya heartland) (see Fig. 1). While we have no direct archaeological evidence to explain the split itself, we can assume by linguistic evidence that contact was soon cut off between the two groups, despite there being no geographical feature that would automatically isolate them from each other.The intervening feature, then, was likely a powerful linguistic-cultural group. What group occupied the Usumacinta River-Gulf Coast lowlands (mainly in today’s Mexican state of Tabasco) between 2000 BC (when the proto-Huastecs began their journey) and 1000 BC (by which time the proto-Yucatecs had arrived in Yucatán, the Chicomuceltecs had been isolated from the Huastecs (Kaufman, p. 111), and the Huastecs were arriving in central Veracruz)? Most scholars propose that this region was inhabited by speakers of the Mixe-Zoque phylum. While speakers of Mixe-Zoque languages are today confined to the mountains of northeast Oaxaca state, along the backbone of the isthmus of Tehuantepec, and into extreme western Chiapas, it is likely that they once occupied the entire Gulf Coast lowland from the isthmus to the Tuxtla mountains – in other words, the Olmec heartland, soon dominated by the presumably Mixe-Zoque-speaking Olmec civilization of about 1400 to 500 BC. One line of evidence that the Olmecs spoke Mixe-Zoque are the words that the proto-Huastecs borrowed from proto-Mixe-Zoque as they passed through the southern Gulf lowlands (Campbell and Kaufman, p. 191); for example, ciw, meaning “squash” (Robertson, p. 309).Thus, there is some reason to ascribe the linguistic isolation of early Huastecs from other Maya speakers to proto-Olmecs speaking a Mixe-Zoque language, themselves recently arrived after migrating northward from the Soconusco region of the Pacific coast and across the isthmus of Tehuantepec (Malstrom, p.28). There is much stronger evidence that the push for the Huastecs’ further migration up the Gulf coast was caused by the active presence of the early Olmecs (c. 1400 to 1100 BC) of San Lorenzo and associated sites. If this is true, most of the distance that the Huastecs migrated during their entire history, from Guatemala to the Huasteca, was traveled in only a century or two at most: the portion between the Olmec heartland around San Lorenzo, and the environs of San Luisa. Wikipedia.


Lightly soiled, light edge wear. A very good copy.

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