Sunday, January 29, 2012

Miguel Leon-Portilla, "The Figure of the Tlamatini," Pre-Hispanic Thought

In the pre-Hispanic world so familiar and well-known must have been the figure and the function of those who received the title "those who know something," the tlamatinime, that there is preserved in an old folio of the Códice matritense the ideal image of these ancient wise men and philosophers. The Castilian version of the text which describes the make-up and the concerns of the tlamatini will serve as an introduction to the study of the specific thought of the thinkers already mentioned, about whose ideas we shall concern ourselves presently:

Tlamatini! Light, and light
of the ample smokeless torch. 
Mirror on both sides
pierced through,
his is the ink black and red,
his are the codices, master
of the picture-books. Himself
the script and the content:
its wisdom incarnate. He is
the way, its truthful compass,
leading things and persons
through affairs human & 

Tlamatini! Doctor and guardian
of Tradition. From him, his
tongue, his eyes, wisdom
descends, undeviating, and
he desists not from counseling. 
He straightens the crooked face,
makes wise the strange, empowers
them to take up Countenance, 
to develop it. Opening their ears, 
illuminating their eyes, the holder 
of the arrows of the compass 
gives them their path, they 
who lean on his counsel.

He places the Mirror before them,
makes them prudent & vigilant,
makes them acquire a Face. 
He sets the path, establishes
what objects regulate the path, 
what laws, what orders, govern
the path. Knowing what sprawls
above us (Topan!) and what yawns
below us (Mictlan!) he shines his light
upon the path, upon the cosmic. 

Thought becomes him,
comforting those around him,
correcting them, teaching them. 
Thanks be unto him, for the people
make cities of their hearts, instruct
their desires as he has instructed them.

Heart-diviner, heart-counselor,
comforter of the people,
their succor and their support,
he brings healing unto all.  

No comments:

Post a Comment