Monday, December 04, 2006

(62) chronology: 1520

The simplest way to remember that the knife and two ears represent the year 1520 is to observe the way, from a distance, they seem to loom over and threaten the Tree-man. They are a mnemonic both for the glyph 2-Tecpatl and for the year 1520, that is the year before the fall of Tenochtitlán.

The chronology looks back from the standpoint of sometime in the year 1528, and sees the 1527 Sack of Rome as a repeat of the 1521 fall of Tenochtitlán. The year 1520 and its difficult-to-remember name in the indigenous chronology are represented in the triptych as “the year before” the milestone. It was a year when (in retrospect) Cortés posed a threat to Tenochtitlan, but more importantly from a European perspective it was a year when Martin Luther already posed a threat to Rome.

In other words, to remember that the year before 1521 was represented in an indigenous codex by a knife and two dots, all one had to do was remember the bizarre image of a knife and ears looming over a hellish scene. The explanation of what the knife had to do with Martin Luther is obscure, as if to take into account that Luther was an obscure person. The initial on the knife is easier to remember than to decipher.


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