Figurines as Bearers of and Burdens in Late Classic Maya State Politics

Christina T. Halperin

in Mesoamerican Figurines

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780813033303
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039350 | DOI:
Figurines as Bearers of and Burdens in Late Classic Maya State Politics

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Clay figurines are portrayed by Mesoamerican scholars to be unrelated to state affairs and politics for the following reasons: the fact that the figurines are often recovered in domestic settings; the fact that supernatural and human being depictions were hardly ever represented in media; and the Western analytical separation of private and public domains, as well as the extension of political and domestic aspects. However, others would argue that art and iconography are innately political, and that the domestic context of use does not necessarily entail an apolitical statement. As such, the fundamental question arises regarding how figurines were able to promote Maya state relations and rulership symbols, or alternate perspectives and values to the Maya state system. This chapter attempts to concentrate on a theoretical framework of mass media studies in examining figurines from the site of Motul de San José, Petén, Guatemala.

Keywords: state affairs; politics; iconography; Maya state relations; state system; rulership symbols

Chapter.  8584 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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