Latinx Heritage Month Feature: Maya Book Burning of 1562
Never forget: July 12th, 1652. This is the day that Diego de Landa, Spanish Bishop of the Catholic Church in the Yucatan, burned Mayan relics. In his effort to convert the Maya to christianity, his war against “idolatry” saw the destruction of every single known codex, or book, of Mayan knowledge. To this day, only four Mayan codices are known to have survived, named after the European cities where they are held: Dresden, Paris, Madrid and Grolier.
Unknown knowledge and religious practices, cosmology, mythology, and mathematics have been lost to the first of July 12th, 1562. The Maya were known to be accomplished astronomers, establishing a strong line of astrologer-priests who looked to the heavens for guidance in daily affairs. The codices that survive point to a keen understanding of the orbits of Venus, Mars, the Sun and the Moon.
While the Spanish conquistadors brought Catholic missionaries that were bent on the destruction and decimation of the Maya people, they were not the only ones to subject the people of Latin America to White European domination. The Spanish fires of the 1500’s inspired centuries of subjugation by the people of West which continues to this very day with the influence of the United States on the governments of Latin American countries.
The important thing to remember is that despite the best efforts of White European colonizers, the belief system, knowledge, mythos, and spirit of the Maya thrive. The Mayan people continue to thrive in Central America, and we, Latinx people, continue to celebrate the roots of our ancestry and lineage. With respect to every culture that came before us, we can situate our current struggles within the timeline of development in the Americas. They may try to burn our books, but they will never diminish the spirit of our people.
Watch this video on the burning of 1562 to learn more: