Reading Maya Art

Reading Maya Art

A Hieroglyphic Guide to Ancient Maya Painting and Sculpture

  1. Andrea Stone
  2. Marc Zender
See Inside
  • ISBN 9780500051689
  • 23.20 x 18.10 cm
  • Hardback
  • 248pp
  • 535 Illustrations, 0 in colour
  • First published 2011
‘Densely informative, brilliantly illustrated guide to the interpretation of the hieroglyphs in Maya art ’ – Andrew Robinson, Current World Archaeology
‘This pioneering book is a unique and exciting journey into the beautiful, complex, and often strange world of Classic Maya art and thought …. it is a major contribution to the study of a great, but disappeared, New World civilization'Michael D. Coe, author of ‘The Maya’
‘A vivid, up-to-the-minute exploration of the entwined nature of Maya art and writing. Lavishly illustrated, it offers a visual dictionary to a lost world of representation and meaning'Simon Martin, author of 'Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens'

The Maya artistic legacy is unique in all of pre-Columbian America.

Maya art is a rare combination of linear elegance and naturalism, blended with dazzling symbolic complexity. Decorated objects, ranging from painted vases and carved jade and shell ornaments to towering stone monuments and building façades, bear the traces of a symbol system that, while fascinating, can make an understanding of these images elusive to the uninitiated.

Presented here for the first time is a compendium of one hundred hieroglyphs that are also building blocks of ancient Maya painting and sculpture. The symbols touch on many facets of the Maya world, from the natural environment – animals, plants, the heavens – to the mental landscape of gods, myths, and rituals.

Using hundreds of line drawings and photographs, the authors show how to identify these signs, understand their meaning, and appreciate the novel ways they appear in art. As well as providing a basic introduction, the authors offer many new and exciting interpretations.

Lavishly illustrated, and fully cross-referenced and indexed, this groundbreaking guide will prove an invaluable tool for those wishing to see Maya art, perhaps for the first time, through the eyes of ancient scribes and artists.

Andrea Stone is a professor of Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is author of Images from the Underworld: Naj Tunich and the Tradition of Maya Cave Painting and editor of Heart of Creation: The Mesoamerican World and the Legacy of Linda Schele. Her research continues into Maya art and symbolism, Maya cave art and Mesoamerican rock art, and the intersection of art, gender, and politics.
Marc Zender is an associate curator and lecturer at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. His research interests include anthropological and historical linguistics, comparative writing systems, and decipherment, and he is the author of numerous articles on Maya hieroglyphic writing. Marc is also associate editor of The PARI Journal and co-maintainer of Mesoweb, a major internet resource for the study of Mesoamerican cultures.