Mayan Hearts: New Artist’s Book

Just a quick note for those interested in artists’ books–or in Mayan art and culture, for that matter.

The Smithsonian Libraries very kindly passed on to us an extra copy of the artist’s book Mayan Hearts by Robert Laughlin, an anthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History and specialist in the Mayan language of Tzotzil.

Mayan Hearts has its origins in the 16th century, at least, when an anonymous Dominican friar created a Tzotzil-Spanish dictionary. The original dictionary was lost in 1914, when the Mexican revolutionary army used its housing library as a stable (removing and destroying the books in the process), but a copy had been made shortly beforehand on the orders of Bishop Francisco Orozco y Jimenez. Upon encountering the dictionary in the vaults of Princeton University’s library, Laughlin was struck in particular by the Tzotzil use of heart-related metaphors to discuss emotion, and sought to illustrate and compile these evocative turns of phrase.

You can encounter these Mayan metaphors and their modern illustrations–by Uruguayan artist Naul Ojeda–in our Special Collections room, along with the rest of our artists’ book collection.

MayanHearts

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