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Acts And Visions

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Chapter Summary

The way in which writing was used and read in precolonial Mesoamerica differed considerably from modern practice. It is crucial to keep in mind that the pictorial writing functioned in a context of oral performance, as an interface between a trained story-teller and an audience. One of the consequences of the codices being pictorial writing is the lack of portraits. The codices register a number of armed conflicts among ancient Ñuu Dzaui village-states. For the Christian missionaries all native religion was, of course, the 'work of the devil'. The colonial chronicles use terms like 'idols', 'demons' 'witches' and 'witchcraft'. This terminology has also created confusion in the popular conceptions, so that designations like 'idols' for archeological statues or 'cave of the devil' for ancient ceremonial places are quite common.

Keywords: Ñuu Dzaui codices; Ñuu Dzaui village-states; Christian missionaries; colonial chronicles; pictorial writing; precolonial Mesoamerica



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