Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya

Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya

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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 Garcia • Beatriz de la Fuente • Hector L. Escobedo • Roberto Garcia Moll • Arnoldo Gonzalez Cruz • Stephen D. Houston • Roberto Lopez Bravo • Diana Magaloni • Julia C. Miller • Alfonso Morales • Merle Greene Robertson • David Stuart • Teresa Uriarte