Music in the Court: An Analysis of the Status of Musicians in the Maya Court

Author(s): Jared Katz

Year: 2015


Just as there was a formal class of scribes in Maya courts, there was also a class of formal musicians. This paper will focus primarily on analyzing the position and social status held by musicians in the Classic Maya area. To begin, the paper will discuss musicians as a formal class within the Maya courts. Musicians are frequently depicted in iconographic portrayals of political events, and based on the garb they are shown wearing, it appears they formed cohesive groups. By analyzing the role of musicians in the court setting, we can gain a more complete understanding of both the composition and structure of classic Maya courts, as well as the role of formal musical groups. Next, the paper will examine how other elites engaged with music. For example, several elite women were interred with musical artifacts, however, there are no depictions of women playing music at elite settings, demonstrating the gendered aspect of music. Music was widespread throughout the Maya court, and by analyzing both formal musicians, as well as other elites who played music, we can better understand the differences between those categories in order to see the role music occupied in the lives of the elite.

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Music in the Court: An Analysis of the Status of Musicians in the Maya Court. Jared Katz. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398388)

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Geographic Keywords
Central America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.702; min lat: 6.665 ; max long: -76.685; max lat: 18.813 ;