Masters Thesis

Maya art as narrative of myth and kingship

The iconography of ancient Maya art addresses Maya mythology and communicates the Maya belief system. The decipherment of Maya glyphs has contributed to the understanding of the historical circumstances of much of ancient Maya art; however, the art is more accurately and completely understood by examining the meaning of the images in relationship to myth. While the form of specific artistic works is laudable, the primary focus of this discussion is on the subject matter and reasons for certain innovations. Art can only be understood in the context of its culture and the presentation of certain contemporary Maya beliefs and practices contributes to an understanding of ancient Maya art. By means of examining images, symbols and the rituals illustrated in the art, conjectures have been made as to the reason for the innovative inclusion of a female figure as the primary actor in a series of lintels in Yaxchilan.

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