The Olmec inscriptions record the names and deeds of many political
officials, religious leaders and Kings (Winters, 1997). The Olmec inscriptions
indicate that each Olmec town was ruled by either a governor or King, and that
their was a recognized religious leader for the entire community (Winters,
The Olmec King was usually referred to as Tu. The Olmec term for governor
was Ku. Interestingly, some of the Olmec rulers were referred to as the Ku and
Tu. This may suggest that the Olmec civilization may have been organized into a
confederation of city-states lead by a recognized emperor .
The Olmec emperor may have appointed the local government heads or Ku
(governors). The fact that some Olmec rulers referred to themselves as Ku Tu, or
both governor and King may reflect the Olmec Emperor's appointment of conquered
Kings as governors over Olmec cities they formerly mastered as a result of
One the most interesting Olmec historical documents is the Mask from Rio
According to the inscriptions on the mask, it was worn by Bada, who was
recognized as the local Ku and chief La (leader of the stone mason's caste)
(Gutherie, 1995: 268, illustration No.186).
Between 900-600 BC one of the major rulers at Guerrero was Po Ngbe
(Gutherie, 1995: 231, illustration No.127). There is also an important tablet
from Ahuelican, Guerrero of mottled green stone that also mentions King Po Ngbe,
and his building of a great temple at his site.
The Guerrero celt makes it clear that Po Ngbe was recognized as a member of
the craftsmen caste. He was ruler of the place where these artifacts were found.
This celt also makes it clear that Po Ngbe was probably buried in a pyramid.
This view is supported by the Ahuelican, Guerrero Tablet. This artifact was made
of the same stone as the Teo mask and the Guerrero celt.
Recently a mask of Po Ngbe was recently discovered and published. The mask of
Po Ngbe has an inscription written on the inside of the mask.
On the back of the Teo mask we find an inscription. The are six columns of
text on the Teo mask. Some researchers refer to this writing as Epi-Olmec or
Isthmian. In reality this is just the heiroglyphic form of Olmec writing. This
form of writing combines two or more singular Olmec signs to form messages.
In the first column of the Teo Mask inscription we read the following:“(1)
Cause (here) the conferring of all virtue to this very good abode.(2)Admiration
indeed (Oh) Governor. Indeed (you are) wonder. (3) Thou (art) a spirit of
tranquility .(4) (Thou art like) the Jaguar (a master of the bush).(5)
Righteousness takes root here in this tomb of (6) Na Po Ngbe.(7) This habitation
of the devotee (is) a habitation of propriety. (8) Order (Na Po Ngbe) this
object of respect to be an envoy on a mission (9) (to) hold upright purity. He
who is a powerful spirit (in) thine tomb.(10) Righteousness takes root here (in
your) tomb.(11) [Na Po Ngbe] A boundless source of great spiritual tranquility
(your) abode. The tomb is powerful.(12) lay low (the celebrity) [in the tomb] to
realize spiritual tranquility.”
One of the most interesting political elites of the Olmec was Bu. Bu is the
kneeling figure from Veracruz, known as the "Shaman in Transformation"
(Gutherie, 1995: 169-170).
In reading the inscription on the
head of this figure, we discover that Bu was a member of the stone mason caste,
who later became governor of Veracruz.
The major Epi-Olmec inscriptions have also been deciphered (Winters, 1997).
These inscriptions are found in Jaguar Pyramids found under Mayan pyramids.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the Olmec played a prominent role in
the rise of Mayan civilization. In Guatemala, we find jaguar stucco masks on the
pyramids of EI Mirador Structure 34, Cerros Structure 5C-2nd, E-VII Sub at
Takalik Uxaxatun, and Structure 5D 22-2nd at Tikal. These jaguar masks are
identical to Olmec jaguar masks: Stela C Tres Zapotes, the La Venta Sarcophagus,
and Monument 15 La Venta. In this presentation, we test the hypothesis that
there is a correlation between the pre-Classic Guatemalan writing and the
(Epi)Olmec writing of Mexico. The purpose of this project is to compare these
symbols to fully decipher the inscriptions of Guatemala, and to learn more about
the religious and political system of the pre-Classic Guatemalans.
There are interesting Epi-Olmec inscriptions associated with the San Bartolo
mural. The San Bartolo mural is identical to the faces on the Chalchuapa, EI
Salvador Olmec Maize God (Clark & Pye  312), and the figure wearing
the maize god mask of La Venta Monument 44 (Clark & Pye  302). The
results of the research indicate that the hieroglyphics associated with
Guatemalan ancient tombs and the monuments from EI Baul, Abaj Takalik, Chiapa de
Corzo, and Tres Zapotes have Maya type glyphs and are different from Classic
Mayan writing but identical to the (Epi)Olmec signs on the side panel of the
The San Bartolo, Guatemala murals are very beautiful they were discovered by
William Saturno of the University of New Hampshire. These murals were found in
an unexcavated pyramid. Entering a looter’s trench Dr. Saturno dug into the
pyramid and discovered the murals. Much of the mural was destroyed when the Maya
built another pyramid over the original structure. In the San Bartolo mural we
see pictures of the coronation of an Epi Olmec King.
The San Bartolo pyramid has two murals. One of the murals is of a procession
of people on a boat . The other mural is of King Tali, sitting on his pyramid.
On the boat there are a number of figures. Moving from right to left we see
four standing figures nearest the end of the boat. These figures are carrying
bundles raised above their heads.
In front of these figures we see several symbols. These symbols provide
context to the procession. There are a number of female figures on the boat. The
woman near the Corn God has writing symbols on their faces. The kneeling figure
holding the vase on the far left side toward the end has the words gyo ti
“righteous cult specialist” on her cheek. The standing female figure in front of
the last three symbols placed in front of the person carrying gifts has the
words ti i “she is righteous” written on her cheek.
Most researchers have assumed that this pyramid was built by the Maya.
Although this is the popular view, this pyramid was probably built by the Olmec.
And the Maya probably built a new pyramid over the original Olmec pyramid. The
person in the coronation scene was Governor
Under many pyramids found in Guatemala and Belize we find stucco-modeled
jaguar pyramids. These pyramids with jaguar mask and large earrings predate all
the Mayan pyramids. They are found at Uaxactun, Tikal and Cerros.
Two of the longest Epi-Olmec inscriptions come from Tuxtla .
The Epi-Olmec inscriptions record calendrical dates, in addition to important
information on the reigns of Governor TuTu at Tuxtla, and King Yo Pe of Mojarra.
Yo Pe was born on 21 May 143 AD, he was recognized as the ruler of Mojarra and
also the Se Gyo (religious leader with considerable wonder making ability).
Other Epi-Olmec rulers include Ki, who was buried in tomb 1, at Rio Azul in
Guatemala, and King Kele, the ruler buried at Tikal, beneath Structure 5D
In summary the Native American traditions make it clear that they were not
the first people to inhabit the area associated with Olmec archaeology. The
settlers of thes area were probably Manding people from West/ Northwest Africa.
These Manding speaking people came to Mexico in twelve waves of immigrants
around 1200 B.C.
The Manding speaking ancestors of the Olmecs came from the Saharan zone of
North Africa (Winters, 1983, 1984c, 1986). Here the Proto-Olmecs left their
earliest inscriptions at Oued Mertoutek (Winters, 1979,1983). They took a full
fledged literate culture to Mexico.
This view is supported both by 1) our ability to read the Olmec
inscriptions; 2) confirmation that the Mayan term for writing *c'ib, is of
Manding origin; and 3) the symbols for Mayan writing are cognate to the Manding
writing systems used in Africa. Moreover, the evidence presented in this paper
makes it clear that the people who introduced writing to the Maya when they met
at Nonoulco, may have been Manding speaking Olmecs..
Discovery at Olmec sites such as LaVenta Offering No.4 , of Manding writing
provide the "absolute proof " of African and Olmec contact. The presence of
readable African writing on Olmec celts, masks and statues, is the genuine
African artifact found "in controlled excavations in the New World" that
confirms the Afrocentric claim of ancient African and Olmec contact.
The existence of African writing on Olmec artifacts is confirmation of the
African influence among the Olmecs (Winters, 1979, 1997). It is an historical
fact that fails to minimizes the role of Native Americans as actors in their own
history, because the Africanized Olmec people had their own civilization, while
the Aztecs and Mayas had theirs. This Afrocentric view of ancient American
history instead of denigrating Native Americans acknowledges the truth, that all
three civilizations made their own unique contributions to the great ancient
history of Meso-America.
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