Chapter

The Language of Chocolate

David Stuart

in Chocolate in Mesoamerica

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780813029535
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039503 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813029535.003.0009
The Language of Chocolate

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The importance of cacao in Classic Maya was often overlooked before the decipherment of glyphic texts seen on ceramics in 1980. The discovery of the meaning of the texts led to the conclusion that during the Classic Maya period, chocolate was a key element of courtly life and had a profound role in the political economics and in feasting, rituals, and events. The various products of cacao also permeated the Maya religious iconographies and cacao was an indispensable part of their religion. This chapter offers a comparative work on what the purpose and use of the cacao beverages in the Maya elite society was. The chapter focuses on the decipherment of the inscribed tags on drinking vessels that often contained descriptions on the varieties of cacao or recipes and their intended use. Several of the hieroglyphic labels found on the chocolate drinking vessels refer to chocolate drinks in combination with other substances and flavorings to highlight and enhance the flavor of cacao. While cacao was seen as a politically and socially important drink, it was also a drink of pleasure in Mayan culture.

Keywords: Classic Maya; chocolate; political economics; feasting; rituals; Maya; cacao; cacao beverages; Maya elite society; drinking vessels

Chapter.  6042 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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