Craft, Literacy, and Ephemera: Maya Textiles in the Gendered Scribal Tradition

Author(s): Stephanie Strauss

Year: 2016


Although art historians, archaeologists, and epigraphers often decry the poor preservation of certain ephemeral categories of Maya hieroglyphic remains – wooden lintels, codex-style books and plaster facades – the missing corpus of ancient hieroglyphic textiles is rarely discussed. Yet unlike the handful of maddeningly flat, angular, or profile-view representations of codices in Maya art, the "extant" inscribed textiles seen in murals, painted on narrative vessels, incised into stone and molded onto figurines, are dynamic, complex, and in rare instances, fully legible. On certain occasions, the Maya elite literally wrapped themselves in hieroglyphic script; embodying written speech in a manner quite distinct from the monumental, and even small-scale and portable, scribal traditions. While many of these inscribed textiles featured painted techniques, others were likely produced by woven techniques still practiced in Maya communities today. This study of the "extant" corpus of hieroglyphic textiles problematizes a typology of textile-as-craft, and illuminates the literate, and perhaps female, artisans who created these artworks, as well as the Maya elite who performed them in lived space.

Cite this Record

Craft, Literacy, and Ephemera: Maya Textiles in the Gendered Scribal Tradition. Stephanie Strauss. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404591)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;