Research Project


A Comparative Analysis between Concepts of Fate and Divinatory Signs in Mesoamerica, China, and Europe

Dr. Araceli Rojas Martínez Gracida

My contribution to the International Consortium for Research in the Humanities will attempt to compare concepts of fate and shared divinatory images and signs from Mesoamerica, China, and Europe, respectively. In particular, I am interested in exploring the notion of joo'nkjyën ixët. This term can be understood as 'destiny' or literally 'to see [the things] along the course of life', and is used in Southern Mexico when consulting a daykeeper and diviner among the Mixe of Oaxaca. This notion of 'coping with life crises' shares certain similarities with Chinese concepts, such as ming (destiny delineated by birth and death), gun-mia (irreversible and reversible time revealed along the road) and tao (road). Additionally, I will explore images of Mesoamerican maize readings and pre-colonial codices of calendrical, ritual, and mantic content (such as the so-called Borgia Group Codices) with other world oracular systems such as Tarot cards, alchemy prints and I Ching texts. My previous investigation has revealed that some of the images created when casting maize can be read in a similar way to the pictography of pre-colonial divinatory codices. At the same time, some images in this pictography seem to be comparable to metaphors in other divinatory imagery and narratives across cultures.

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