Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya / Edition 1

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Overview

The most recent archaeological discoveries and a host of dramatic illustrations illuminate royal life at the court of the ancient Maya.Maya artistic expression during the second half of the first millennium reached the highest peaks of opulence and cultural refinement in the New World. Living in a tropical rain forest, supported by a society of astonishing wealth and complexity, the ancient Maya kings and queens commissioned extraordinary works of art and architecture in order to memorialize themselves and to ensure their place in history. Seated on thrones of jaguar pelt, rulers contemplated the social, religious, and political affairs of their kingdom while a coterie of dwarves, hunchbacks, scribes, singers, actors, fan bearers, and drummers catered to their every need. Supplicants of lordly favor brought lavish gifts and tribute, cloth and shells, beads and cacao. From one generation to another, nobles began to take on additional titles, providing an ever more refined notion of courtly rights and responsibilities, rankings and rituals. Published to accompany a touring exhibition, this groundbreaking book gathers together the latest research into Maya civilization and hundreds of illustrations to illuminate their achievements. Nowhere is this more spectacularly revealed than at Palenque, but the courtly world becomes more tangible to us too from works found at Tonina, Yaxchilan, Bonampak, and Copan, among other places. Ceramic censers, stucco heads, jade masks, terra-cotta figurines, incised wood boxes, great carved limestone lintels—the range of objects is astounding, and they have been drawn together from major collections in the Americas, Europe, and Australia. 328 illustrations, 233 in color. With contributions by: Guillermo Bernal Romero • Michael D. Coe • Martha Cuevas García • Beatriz de la Fuente • Héctor L. Escobedo • Roberto García Moll • Arnoldo González Cruz • Stephen D. Houston • Roberto López Bravo • Diana Magaloni • Julia C. Miller • Alfonso Morales • Merle Greene Robertson • David Stuart • Teresa Uriarte

Author Biography: Mary Miller is Professor of the History of Art at Yale University; her many books include The Art of Mesoamerica. Simon Martin is Research Specialist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and the co-author of Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens. Kathleen Berrin is Curator in Charge of Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

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Editorial Reviews

Chrsitopher Benfey
In this book, written in connection with another exhibition, two top scholars in the field, the art historian Mary Miller and the epigraphist (decipherer of ancient texts) Simon Martin, home in on the seventh and eighth centuries A.D., when Mayan civilization reached ''the peak of opulence and refinement,'' and for a brief period women were accorded a leading role in affairs of state and culture. An elaborately carved limestone stele depicts a Mayan queen running a rope studded with thorns through her tongue, a bloody prelude -- probably accompanied by hallucinogens -- to her vision of a monstrous beast, part snake and part centipede. On the lighter side, the Maya prized cleverness -- trompe l'oeil ceramics mimic baskets and gourds. And they prized black humor -- in a ceramic figurine a dog at a diner's side contemplates the severed head of another dog floating in the stewpot.
The New York Times
Library Journal
While it comes as no surprise to the specialist that the most exquisite examples of Maya art emerge from the context of their innumerable royal courts, this handsome exhibition catalog offers a most serviceable introduction to that only partially knowable universe of sophisticated patronage and high artistic accomplishment. In six essays and accompanying catalog entries, noted Mayanists Miller (history of art, Yale) and Martin (research specialist, Univ. of Pennsylvania) articulate and illustrate an urban and urbane society dominated by refined dynasts employing artist-craftsmen of a supreme caliber to express a vision of existence that is simultaneously worldly, literate, bellicose, and yet pervaded by the divine. The 130 splendidly selected examples of late classic (600-900 C.E.) stone and terra cotta sculpture, painted pottery, jade, and stucco shown in 328 illustrations (233 in color) serve as an extraordinary testament to this culture at its intellectual and aesthetic apogee. Although the catalog's entries are not given full-blown scholarly treatment, the absence of pedantry will be welcomed by most readers. Amateurs as well as academics will, however, be daunted or dismayed by the 13 overly condensed and under-illustrated mini-studies intended to introduce recent relevant discoveries. Overall, the intelligence of the main text and the excellent illustrations recommend this volume as a necessary addition to both art history and archaeology collections. [The traveling exhibition appears at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, through July, then at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. Ed.] Robert Cahn, Fashion Inst. of Technology, New York Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500051290
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 3/19/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Forewords 6
Introduction 12
Ch. 1 Life at the Maya Court 16
Ch. 2 The Divine Models of Courtly Culture 50
Ch. 3 Women at Court 92
Ch. 4 Word and Image in the Maya Court 120
Ch. 5 The Court of War 162
Ch. 6 Palenque: An Exemplary Maya Court 198
Ch. 7 New Discoveries and Personal Accounts in the Maya West 238
Gods of the Scribes and Artists 239
Dressed Lords and Ladies 242
The Multiple of Languages of a Single Relief 244
The Techniques of the Palenque Sculptors 247
Technique, Color, and Art of Bonampak 250
The Cult of Patron and Ancestor Gods in Censers at Palenque 253
State and Domestic Cult in Palenque Censer Stands 256
The Discoveries in Temple 19, Palenque 259
History, Mythology, and Royal Legitimization at Palenque's Temple 19 261
The Throne Panel of Temple 21 at Palenque 264
Shield Jaguar and Structure 23 at Yaxchilan 268
The Acropolis of Piedras Negas: Portrait of a Court Systems 271
Tales from the Crypt: The Burial Place of Ruler 4, Piedras Negras 277
Notes 281
Select Bibliography 285
Glossary 291
Guide to Spelling and Transliteration 295
List of Lenders 296
Authors and Contributors 297
Acknowledments 298
Illustration Credits 299
Index 300
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