Itz’aat and Tlamatini: The “Wise Man” as Keeper of Maya and Nahua Collective Memory

Daniel Graña-Behrens

The tlamatini is related to four diferent religious and artistic activities. One is the priestly function…. The role as calendar priest included not only supervising the 260-day count but also performing prophesies based on that calendar and on other knowledge, such as astronomy, and serving as a teacher. Also within this role was that of physician or healer who cured the people. A second job performed by the tlamatini was that of soothsayer, one who heard confessions and was a mediator between the people and the deities… “a wise man, an owner of books and of writings”… A third function of the tlamatini was that of sorcerer… the sorcerer was not only a “counsellor” but also, and more precisely, a “guardian” who kept an eye on the community as a whole. The last role of the tlamatini was that of owner of sacred books, one who counted the days and watched over the prophecies.

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Originally published as a chapter in Mesoamerican Memory Enduring Systems of Remembrance, University of Oklahoma Press, 2012. Republished here with thanks.