Flower Worlds of the Pacific Coast

Author(s): Oswaldo Chinchilla

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "The Flower World: Religion, Aesthetics, and Ideology in Mesoamerica and the American Southwest" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

One of the richest repertoires of Mesoamerican flower imagery comes from the Pacific coast of Guatemala. In this paper, I trace the temporal variations in religious beliefs and imagery related to portentous places of beauty known that modern scholars designated as "flower worlds." Lush vegetation and birds were important themes in the area, beginning in the Late Preclassic sculptures of Izapa. During the Early Classic, a new and elaborate set of icons and meanings appeared in Teotihuacan-style cylinder tripods and censers from the coastal plain of Escuintla. Reinterpreted by coastal artists, flower world images reappeared with a novel range of religious connotations in the Late Classic sculptures from Cotzumalhuapa. The enduring presence of related beliefs is made evident by ethnographic attestations from modern communities in adjacent highlands, particularly Santiago Atitlán. The pervasiveness of flower imagery is surprising in a region that witnessed considerable ethnic and cultural changes. Building on earlier work, I highlight some of the lesser-known representations, tracing common threads and shifting meanings that can be perceived in the works of coastal artists across millennia.

Cite this Record

Flower Worlds of the Pacific Coast. Oswaldo Chinchilla. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450455)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -109.226; min lat: 13.112 ; max long: -90.923; max lat: 21.125 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23329