The Body and Class

FIGURE 3. Lord 10 Lizard

FIGURE 3. Lord 10 Lizard “Arrow-Footed,” from page 23 of the Codex Nuttall.

FIGURE 4. Elite (red) and non-elite (black italics) body-part terms. Image of Lady 3 Flint giving birth from page 16 of the Codex Nuttall.

FIGURE 4. Elite (red) and non-elite (black italics) body-part terms. Image of Lady 3 Flint giving birth from page 16 of the Codex Nuttall.

Additional metaphorical uses of the Ñudzavui body can be found in the words and phrases of a special ritual vocabulary used to refer to the members of the elite class. This vocabulary was based on metaphors and euphemisms which marked elite actions and physiognomy as distinct from those of the common people.3 The Ñudzavui elite did not die; the elite merely “fainted.” The elite Ñudzavui infant did not merely nurse; such a child “sucked honey.” The elite Ñudzavui body was similarly rarefied through the terminology of a ritual vocabulary, and some of these metaphors of the body appear in codical art. The illustration in Figure 3 shows that the Ñudzavui elite did not have “feet”—they had swift, sure “arrows,” represented as a pair of long yellow shafts sticking out of Lord 10 Lizard’s feet.

The use of the term for arrow (duhua ) to describe the elite Ñudzavui foot (duhuaya ) is only one example of the dozens of words included in this metaphoric body vocabulary. Some elite body part terms were formed by simply adding the elite suffix -iya (-yaya ) to the root of a regular vocabulary word. Thus the brains of a common person were yusadzini ; those of an elite person were yusayaya. Other terms, like that for foot, used an entirely separate root. Figure 4 illustrates the differences in form and meaning between the terms used to describe the parts of the elite and the common body. These terms have been excerpted from a 1593 grammar of Dzaha Dzavui, Fray Antonio de los Reyes’ Arte en Lengua Misteca.4

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3 Reyes 1976 [1593], 74-76; Arana Osnaya 1961; Jansen 1985; Marcus 1992, 278; and Jansen and Pérez Jiménez 2009.

4 These terms have been compiled from Reyes 1976 [1593], 74-76; Arana Osnaya 1961; Jansen 1985.