Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Quellqa: Ancient Written Language of Peru – Part IV

Continuing from the previous posts regarding the so-called secret written language of the early Peruvians. In past articles we have written extensively about the importance Mormon and Moroni felt regarding the hiding of the sacred Nephite records for fear that if they fell into Lamanite hands, they would be destroyed. In fact, to believe that anything Nephite that would be associated with their sacred writing, would have survived the final annihilation of the Nephite Nation in 385 A.D., is to misunderstand the reasoning behind the Lamanites’ hatred for their Nephite brethren.
Not unlike the animosity the Arab nations have for the Jewish state of Israel today, believing Isaac stole the birthright from Abraham’s first son, Ishmael, and demanding Issrael’s complete annihilation, the Lamanites long held the fervent belief that Nephi stole the birthright (bechora) and right of primogeniture from his older brother, and Lehi’s firstborn son, Laman. Today, Rabbinic commentators explain that having the birthright affects the firstborn's position and role in the family, imposes on him certain spiritual obligations and entitles him to special monetary benefits. It was even of greater importance anciently, when the first born son took on himself the feeding and care of all the women of the family, held a leadership hand much like a Shiek or minor king, within his own family circle, and was the accepted decision-making of all things pertaining to the family as a whole.
     To the Jew and Arab, this is no small thing, and anciently, was paramount in their daily lives. This birthright established the firstborn as being the head of the family, and entitled him to inherit the position and authority of his father, which afforded him greater honor and prestige than his younger siblings, and receiving a greater share or double portion of the family’s estate. Thus his younger brothers and sisters were expected to honor and respect him, much as children must honor and respect their parents.
    In turn, the oldest son assumes responsibility for the family's welfare,and the birthright obligated the firstborn to preserve the sacred traditions of the family by fulfilling specific spiritual responsibilities, such as bringing sacrifices on behalf of the family, and to serve as the family's spiritual representative.
     In fact, originally, bringing sacrifices to the altar was the privilege of the first born and until the Tabernacle was establish private altars were permitted, and the service was done by the Bechorot (first-born). Thus the “birthright” of the first-born in every family was to be its representative at the altar, to bring sacrifices for the family. It is as if every single family could have their own “cohen,” serving Hashem, which did happen, right around Matan Torah (the giving of the Torah). Thus, the fulfilling of these spiritual duties for the family was a sacred privilege, but also quite risky—improper service could result in death. It was simply something not to be trifled with, but here was Nephi, usurping it as far as Laman and Lemuel were concerned, who taught their children to hate the Nephites in turn (Mosiah 10:16-17).
As a result, when Nephi rose in prominence in the family among his siblings, built the ship, guided them to the Land of Promise, took over control of the new colony as second in command beneath his father, though the fourth son, and had his father’s blessing in doing so, and were constantly reminded of their shortcomings and Nephi’s spiritual greatness (2 Nephi 1:24-27), the brothers rebelled (2 Nephi 5:3) and sought his life.
    When Nephi was commanded to flee their presence (2 Nephi 5:5), and took all those with him that were willing to follow him, he also took those few artifacts the colony would have held in great esteem, such as the sword of Laban, the Liahona, and the brass plates (2 Nephi 5:12,14). He even built a temple like unto Solomon’s (2 Nephi 5:16), which must have been the final blow to Laman and Lemuel in his usurpation of the rights of the bechora (בְּכוֹרָה).
    As a result of this 1000-year-long-hatred of the Lamanites toward the Nephites, we can understand how important it was for the Lamanties to eliminate and remove all semblence of Nephite existence in order to justify their right to finally rule. Nephite writing, the sacred records, and whatever symbols or icons the Nephites might have had would have been destroyed. This is seen when the Lamanites were driving Mormon and his armies deeper and deeper into the north country and though they were in hot pursuit, the Lamanites took the time to destroy and burn to the ground all Nephite towns, villages and cities (Mormon 5:5), killing all Nephties who could not escape their pursuit (Mormon 5:7).
Obviously, as we have suggested before, anything Nephite, especially Nephite writing since it represented all that the Lamanites had to eliminate, had to be destroyed if the Lamanites were going to claim the rights they sought. That is not to say, however, that the Lamanites did not have a written language. It was Amulon who taught the Lamanites the Nephite written language so that they could write one another (Mosiah 24:6-7). During the 200 years of peace and tranquility where there were no –ites among them, and then as late as 385 A.D., Mormon is corresponding with the Lamanite king (Mormon 3:4; 6:2). Obviously, the Lamanites had a written language, as well.
    So what happened to that Lamanite written language? Why was it not being used 1000 years later when the Spanish arrived?
    Which brings us back to the t’oqapu (tocapu) and also to another event in Incan history. First, the tocapu is a considered a type of signage—a language that, in addition to its characteristic form, some tocapu are enrolled in a quadrangular, simple and normal frame, which both art and semiotics, indicates that what is inside this graph limit has semiotic status.
    Note also that, as a form of marking, is a trait that can also be seen on many objects non-Andean intended to communicate a story through graphics and text, for example, in "boxes sanctuary" and in some pictorial votive offerings, all products of the sixteenth century onwards, characteristic of European and churches present in Andean culture. One of the differences between the pictorial votive offerings and tocapu was that while it did not contain scenes; it took into account the shape (square, rectangular) that is assumed in the framework graphically limited tocapu to a drawing that said something.
    Which brings us to an understanding of semiotic, which is a word derived from the Greek sēmeiōtikos, meaning the observation of signs, which comes from sēmeiousthai, the interpretation of signs, and from sēmeion meaning sign (sēma), dates to about 1880. This is the study of meaning-making, the study of sign processes and meaningful communication. This includes the study of signs and sign processes (semiosis), indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification and communication.
    It is in brief, a general philosophical theory of signs and symbols that deal especially with their function in both artificially constructed and natural languages and comprises syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics. If one is going to make sense out of a group of signs, symbols or even unrecognized hieroglyphs, one should be at least acquainted with the science of semiotics.
    According to Gary Shank in Semiotics and Qualitative Research in Education: the Third Crossroad,” Semiotic theory can help expand the conceptual and practical domain of qualitative research by serving as a philosophical foundation for the discipline, thereby allowing qualitative researchers to build upon a set of ideas that powerfully extend the aims and goals of their research.”
    He also believes that qualitative research in education can help expand semiotics by serving as a source of empirical research and findings, thereby helping move semiotics away from its current nearly total preoccupation with theory and into a state where empirically determined issues play a more important and visible role.
It should also be noted that since qualitative research in education and semiotics have developed independently of each other, there are few people who understand the issues and ideas of both fields. However, once these definitions have been laid out, it is believed that the potential link between the two areas will be established by presenting an examination of its current state in the history of qualitative thinking, which can then be used to situate the comparisons between the two domains.
How many researchers, historians, archaeologists and anthropologists are also semioticians? Very few to none. Is it important? It seems so in the case of the Peruvian Tocapu language of patterned signage that many researchers claim have written meaning.
    This, then, leads us to the second point.
(See the next post, “Quellqa: Ancient Written Language of Peru – Part V,” for more information on how the sciences are possibly changing and looking at new insights into an early Peruvian writing system and also why the Inca had no writing system when the Spanish arrived)

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