H. E. M. Braakhuis, Looper, Matthew: The Beast Between. Deer in Maya Art and Culture. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2019. 276 pp. ISBN 978-​1-​4773-​1805-​8. Price: $ 60.00 in:

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Anthropos, Volume 115 (2020), Issue 1, ISSN: 0257-9774, ISSN online: 0257-9774,

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Looper, Matthew: The Beast Between. Deer in Maya Art and Culture. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2019. 276 pp. ISBN 978-1-4773-1805-8. Price: $ 60.00 The hunt is a classic subject of anthropological study, which in the case of Mesoamerica has received scant at‐ tention. A monumental work by Guilhem Olivier re‐ cently redressed the situation for northern Mesoamerica and the Aztecs; the book under review, though on a far lesser scale, endeavors to do much the same for the Maya. Written by a professor of art history at California State University, Chico, who specializes in Maya dance, dress, and epigraphy, it assembles – under the curious ti‐ tle “The Beast Between” – much of the existing facts and theories concerning the deer hunt, especially as practiced by the Classic Maya, while also adding a number of new interpretations. In keeping with the au‐ thor’s professional interests, several chapters highlight a specific museum piece and some include detailed des‐ criptions of dances. Aside from an introduction and epilogue, there are eight chapters, the first three of which provide the basis for the discussion of the symbolism and mythology of the deer and the deer hunt, which is the book’s main concern. These initial chapters deal with the biology of the white-tailed deer and brocket, their environment, and the ways they are hunted; the many practical uses to which the durable parts of the deer were put; and the role of the deer hunt in expressing the nobility’s domi‐ nance and in enabling a lifestyle based on conspicuous consumption. Following these preliminaries, chapter 4 examines the deer’s association with sexuality, expressed through a myth that equates hunting for deer with hunting for wives. The focus is on a group of Classic vases showing a dying Lord of the Deer lying on a bench and sur‐ rounded by young women, antlered young men, and deer. Using Q’eqchi’ and Ixil Hummingbird tales as a model, the author identifies the women as aspects of the moon maiden; the Lord of the Deer as an analog of the patriarchal mountain deity; and the young men as as‐ pects of the Hummingbird hero intent on fertilizing the women and abducting them with the help of the deer. On the Munich vase, this same hero appears to be repre‐ sented by a “Maize-Deer God.” Chapter 5 further elaborates the symbolism of the deer hunt by discussing the fusion of hunt, war, and the ballgame; the assimilation of the captive to a deer quar‐ ry; his sacrifice on a scaffold; and the implications of this for the king’s accession ritual. In this last connec‐ tion, it interprets an antlered and hoofed dragon depict‐ ed below the new king as a quarry, cut asunder when earth and sky were first separated. Finally, it lays great emphasis on the deer hunt as part of the initiation (first penance) of the young nobleman. Chapter 6 reviews ethnographic data concerning the Lord of the Deer, including the “hunting shrines” in which the bones and skulls of the deer are ritually re‐ stored to this deity for resuscitation. It also presents a series of Highland Guatemalan deer dances revolving around an old trapper, viewed as a divine owner of the deer. There follows a discussion of the main Classic Lord of the Deer and of various name glyphs assumed to render the Yucatec name Sip. Curiously, the dying hunting deity discussed in chap. 4 and what is claimed to be his name glyph do not appear here. The chapter concludes with an exegesis of the deer hunt almanacs in the Madrid Codex and their Lord of the Deer. Chapter 7 is, like chap. 4, devoted to a myth, namely that of the male origin of the deer hunt. It reviews a se‐ ries of scenes showing the interaction of the heroic Headband Gods with a stag covered by a shroud painted with crossed bones. In accordance with an important new interpretation by Chinchilla Mazariegos, this event is viewed as the heroes’ vain attempt to revive their dead father, who either falls apart into bones or changes into a deer that flees away, both outcomes amounting to the origin of the deer hunt. The second half of this chap‐ ter attempts to show that the deer father symbolizes the setting sun and the dry season. Chapter 8 extends the idea of the hunt into black sor‐ cery and disease-casting, and more specifically into the activity of were-animals that often show hybrid forms of deer buck and spider monkey, and of such other dark emissaries as hunting deities, antlered death gods, and jaguars. Surprisingly, the underlying concept of an “in‐ verted hunt,” apparently indulged in by resentful game animals and their masters, is not explored. Instead, the discussion leads to an extended interpretation of scenes incised on a Copan peccary skull. The material thus assembled suggests some addi‐ tional conclusions. The figurine of an old deer hunter embracing a woman, which introduces chap. 4, may well find its explanation in the old trapper of the deer dances described in chap. 6, whose craving for women unfortunately remains undiscussed. Also in chap. 4 there is a clear parallel between the hero using an antler to open the womb of the daughter of the mountain deity (78) and the 16th-century Yucatec Maya priest who pur‐ portedly did the same with young and recently married women (74) in a presumably symbolic act that may thus have had its roots in Q’eqchi’-Mopan Hummingbird myth. The deer that carries Moon to the sky (78) sug‐ gests the same Deer Star mentioned in chap. 5 (106). Although attentive to the mythological origin of game animals from the bones of the protagonists’ wife and father, the author disregards the role of the elder brethren, who either themselves become wild animals or else cause captive animals to run wild. The latter resolu‐ tion occurs in certain Mam-Q’anjob’al tales that not on‐ ly trace the origin of all game animals to a deer in the moon, but also (as astutely noted by Linda A. Brown) set out the origin of the hunting shrine. The discussion of the Lord of the Deer (Sip) gives little consideration to other Classic hunting deities. Some of these are notable for their ugly complexion and thus may relate to the el‐ der brother of Q’eqchi’-Mopan Hummingbird tales, Xu‐ lab, and to the Guardian of the Woods. 242 Book Reviews Anthropos 115.2020 The interpretation of the Dying God scenes in terms of an abduction (a notion proposed, incidentally, by Be‐ liaev and Davletshin) gives rise to significant incon‐ gruities, of which the identification of the young women as wives, rather than daughters, of the Lord of the Deer is only one. Moreover, despite the author’s claim to the contrary (82), the antlered young men of the codex style vases are not iconographically identifiable as maize deities (or aspects of the “Maize-Deer God”). More im‐ portantly, perhaps, the author does not really address previous interpretations that focus more on hunting lore than on myth and that cast the antlered young men as hunters who, after sexually restoring the Owner’s slain deer, become farmers. The “Maize-Deer God” could be viewed as the embodiment of such a transition. Besides the explanations concerning the Dying God, a number of other vase interpretations (such as those on pp. 46, 84, 86 f., 139 f., 160–168) adduced in support of the book’s various arguments could also be questioned. In one case (137), God N’s function as a hunting deity is demonstrated by a vase that (on a side not shown in the drawing) features God D rather than God N. More gener‐ ally, hunter-deer identifications (e. g., pp. 46, 64, 93) might have been handled more carefully, and overly gen‐ eral and peremptory conclusions (e.g., the deer’s sur‐ mised function as a symbol of sexual excess and depravi‐ ty) and needless theorizing (concerning “male gaze,” lim‐ inality, border performativity, border studies) avoided. Notwithstanding these strictures, much can be learned from this richly varied book, and it certainly contains numerous starting points for further investiga‐ tion. The vase drawings by Dana Moot II, especially of the Munich Dying God vase, warrant tribute. One hopes that a revised edition will also see the completion of two of the large glyphs in fig. 7.13. H. E. M. Braakhuis ( Martins, Rosana, and Massimo Canevacci (eds.): Lusophone Hip-Hop. “Who We Are” and “Where We Are”. Identity, Urban Culture, and Belonging. Canon Pyon: Sean Kingston, 2018, 295 pp. ISBN 978-1- 907774-12-6. Price: £ 65.00 “I’m a lusophone, I twist languages. And like hiphop, I’m back in search of cooperation. Beginning, mid‐ dle, end, tradition, modernity. Citizenship of interna‐ tional dignity.” With these lyrics by female rapper Sharylaine from São Paulo, Brazil, the book “Luso‐ phone Hip-Hop” kicks off. Joining fourteen original chapters over roughly three hundred pages, covering ur‐ ban cultures in Portugal, Brazil, and Lusophone Africa, the volume’s editors, Rosana Martins and Massimo Canevacci – researchers at the New University of Lis‐ bon and the University of São Paulo, and the University of Rome “La Sapienza” and the University of São Paulo, respectively – aim to lay bare the fragmented connectivity in Lusophone diasporic spaces today. Even so, many chapters explicitly transcend a one-continentapproach, as they make practical connections to the oth‐ er continents involved. Thus, both in content and struc‐ ture, this book evokes how the identity and belonging processes of youngsters in the Portuguese-speaking world are transnationally related and, at times, mutually dependent. The editors display numerous moments produced in the articulation of cultural differences and intersubjec‐ tive – intermediating, consensual, or antagonistic – ex‐ periences, thus establishing a “dialogical circle” be‐ tween practice and reflection about identity, social be‐ longing, the use of public space, and rights to differ‐ ence. They argue that the four pillars of hip-hop – rap‐ ping, DJing, break-dancing, graffiti – allow for deepen‐ ing knowledge among the citizens of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) about inter/ intra, colonial/racial contradictions and their impact on power structures. Understood both as a therapy against resentment and a type of cultural justice, Lusophone hip-hop resonates with a growing body of research that aims to actively create a transnational public space and expand performative Lusophone cosmopolitanism, complementing or contesting previous analyses of the Lusophone Atlantic. The book’s first section is dedicated to Portugal. Rosana Martins lays bare how Associação Posse Hausa in São Paulo uses hip-hop to promote Afro-Brazilian cultures and fight racism and drugs; how cultural group Afro Reggae in Rio de Janeiro combines popular culture and political mobilization to generate income for local communities; and how Associação Diálogo e Acção in Lisbon uses music to deconstruct subalternities. Teresa Fradique situates the birth of tuga rap music as an aesthetic and performative discourse in Portugal in the 1990 s. She shows how the genre initially mediated between underground and mainstream society by recon‐ figuring youth experiences and cultural crossover spaces. In the 2000 s, newspaper and institutional sup‐ port then empowered rap practices, increasingly repre‐ senting hip-hop as a national genre. However, tensions remained: between nationalized music practices and transnational music models; “underground or sellout” artists; and official voices and silenced ones. In his article, Jorge de La Barre argues that sampling is a technocultural practice which allows for question‐ ing forms of musical cosmopolitanism that evoke fes‐ tive redefinitions of Lisbon, diverging from messages of resistance and racial critique towards party and leisure. La Barre shows how diversity and fusion narratives compete and incorporate sampled symbolic appropria‐ tions of an affective Africa, which is digitally safe‐ guarded from collective amnesia. Finally, Ricardo Campos explores urban graffiti in Lisbon’s Cova da Moura as an interstitial practice. He posits that graffiti is still ideologically and aesthetically connected to rap music, constituting an act of peripheral identity politics that counters social stigmas and pro‐ motes African diasporic identities. The book’s second part is dedicated to Brazil. In his contribution, Otávio Raposo finds similarities and dif‐ Book Reviews 243 Anthropos 115.2020

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Anthropos is the international journal of anthropology and linguistics, founded in 1906 by Wilhelm Schmidt, missonary and member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). Its main purpose is the study of human societies in their cultural dimension. In honor of Wilhelm Schmidt‘s legacy, the cultivation of anthropology, ethnology, linguistics, and religious studies remain an essential component oft he Anthropos Institute – the organizational carrier of the journal.


Anthropos - internationale Zeitschrift für Völkerkunde wird vom Anthropos Institut St. Augustin seit 1906 zweimal jährlich herausgegeben. Ursprünglich als Sprachrohr für katholische Missionarsarbeit geplant, gilt sie heute als wichtige Fachzeitschrift der allgemeinen Ethnologie. Sie behandelt sowohl kulturelle als auch sprachliche Themen in mehreren Sprachen, mit Schwerpunkt auf den Völkern des gesamtamerikanischen und afrikanischen Kontinents.