Indeed, Mixtec writing can be considered to have had an impressive history that spans to more than 2000 years. During this long duration, it has managed to express numerous aspects and concerns in regard to social reality in which it has been produced. Bringing us to the Mixtec-Aztec interaction, Mark B. King shows us how various characters and pictorials forms of writing represents complete ideas and words instead of sounds and syllables in poems and metaphors. The structure and meaning of the Mixtec codical symbolism have been examined and expounded in his article. According to King, the focus on toponymic identification and chronological correlation between Mixtec linguistic structure and codices have been instrumental in the discovery of the Mixtec syllabic writing system. This paper will give a critical analysis of the article Poetics and Metaphor in Mixtec Writing, which is authored Mark King.
King’s idea of dividing the paper into three distinct parts was a good approach since it clearly gives the difference that can be attributed to the different aspects of Mixtec writing. From his analysis of myths and Mixtec symbolism, and his description of the Mixtec poetics and the symbolic correlation, the notion of how Mesoamerican forms of writings can be distinguished according to their specific details and glyphs becomes apparent. The logic put forth by kings in his explanation of myths, and Mixtec symbolism appears to make a lot of sense. It is obvious that, for any community in the world, their myths is what normally gives them their culture and identity. The myth of sacrifice is among the types of myths explained in this article that carries a lot of symbolism. It shows the strength of spiritual belief by the Aztec communities. The symbolic vocabulary that has been employed in the codices are precisely the concepts that have been embedded in the myths about rain and sacrifice. His logic about the relationship symbol used to define both myths is right. Since for instance, the mythic structure of rain is clearly distinguishable with that of the earth, sky or the centre. In this regard, the centre is the metaphor for the household of the rain, whereas, the sky and the earth are responsible for providing food and new life. Therefore, just like King explains, rain and sacrifice represents one of the basic cosmic structure of the Mixtec universe (King, 1990, p.141).
Nonetheless, there appears to be few problematic assumptions in King explanation of symbolism of the Mixtec codices. According to King, the mythical model that denote sacrifice is characterized as having various conceptual elements namely; the giver of life, the gifts or the tokens and also the recipient who returns the sacrificial tokens given to. He adds that these three cosmic contexts consequently yields nine categories, and in each category, the contexts are characterised by what can be referred to as a poetic identity. However, this paper supposes that King made various inconsistencies especially when the issue of comparing the events that denote sacrifices to their metaphoric meaning. For instance, the gifts that are associated with sacrifices are inconsistently perceived to be the metaphors of natural forces. These gifts are not necessarily natural forces but are rather poetic contexts that are aimed at explaining relationships, rewarding and bonding. When explaining the metaphor associated with the earth as per Mixtec point of view, lightning is the food that the people of Aztec used to share with the spirits of the earth that are responsible for guiding them in their mythic covenant. Therefore, it becomes evident that, for every natural force that occurs in the mythical life of the Aztec, they can be associated with a respective poetic or mnemonic syllable (King, 1990, p.142).
In addition, this article also contains numerous repeated themes that revolve around the connection of the Aztec people and their belief in natural forces. From the essay, it is obvious that King has repetitively dwelt on the issue of lightning as the theme of natural ideologies that gives a mnemonic and poetic quality to the Mixtec writings. Lightning has been used in almost all the subsections such as ritual metaphors, rain and also in the poetics and the interpretations of captioning. Kings gives a good argument about the importance of captions in the Mixtec writings. Through the use of captions in their poetic language, the Mixtec writings illustrate the complexity of the use of language and symbolism that has been inherently instituted in their calendar. The use of the Aztec calendar as an approach to expound on the divinatory aspect or rituals of the Aztec people is a good methodology since it helps us to better understand and interpret various identifiable captions and genealogical codices. In addition, the Vienna codex, which is also known as the codex Vindobonensis has been effectively used in the article to show the correlation of the mythical notions of the Aztec and their principles of ritual maintenance. Conclusively, it is evident that, the general symbolism of systems in the prehistoric context needs a lot of many forms of data, nonetheless, the analytical comparison of various poetic and metaphoric elements in the Mixtec writings are better understood when they are motivated by symbolisms of genealogical codices.
King, M. (1990). Poetics and metaphor in Mixtec writing. Ancient Mesoamerica, 1(1), 141-