24 September 2007

More background notes

  • The avant-garde costumes and masks used to repel the Mayan soldiers are based on those designed by Sophie Taeuber and Marcel Janco for the Cabaret Voltaire in 1916. The nonsense poem is by Hugo Ball, founder of the cabaret (which was the start of the Dada movement).
  • The Taino (who I probably should've called the Arawaks, which is the name they're more commonly known by) did trade with the Mayans, and the Spanish established primitive communication with the Mayans using them as translators.
  • Marina is very loosely based on Cortes's mistress. Of course, the historical Marina was part of a group of female slaves Cortes got as part of some dodgy deal in a completely different Mayan city (the Spanish were too wussy to land at Tulum), whereas I've made her an independent woman with a gift for languages (just because I can).
  • The Totonacs were Cortes's main ally. The Mexica (the Aztecs) ruled their empire by leaving the local rulers in place but exacting a large tribute, which the Totonacs (who had to provide a particularly large tribute) bitterly resented. They lived on the coast, and were a lot more relaxed than the puritanical Mexica.
  • The Mayans were very receptive to foreign influence. Many cities show the influence of other cultures on their art and architecture.
  • A smallpox vaccination programme would be very easy to set up. All you need is a sharp stick and a sample of smallpox.
  • I'm pushing it a bit to set out in 1482, discover the New World and do all that stuff, and still get back before Leonardo da Vinci set off for Milan, but hey.

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