Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya Author:Mary Miller and Simon Martin Maya artistic expression over a millennium ago reached the highest peaks of opulence and cultural refinement in the New World. Supported by a society of astonishing wealth and complexity, the ancient Maya rulers commissioned the extraordinary works of art and architecture that have ensured their place in history, all within a deep tropical rain... more »forest.
Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya is a unique, lavishly illustrated overview of the courts and court production of this great civilization. The Maya fashioned their society with a special emphasis on dynastic kingship, and eventually sixty or more fiercely competitive kingdoms dotted their landscape. At the heart of each kingdom lay the royal court -- a place of elegance and entertainment, sumptuously furnished within and splendidly decorated throughout. Maya rulers -- as kings of the forest -- sat on flayed jaguar skins and pelt cushions, surrounded by a coterie of dwarves and hunchbacks, singers, drummers, and fan-bearers. The book investigates the rise in the importance of the court, its mythical backdrop, the role of women, and the place of warfare. Palenque is analyzed as an exemplary Maya court, and works found here, as well as at other sites including Tonina, Yaxchilan, Bonampak, and Copan, are particularly featured. The works of artists and scribes -- ceramic censers, stucco heads, and jade masks appear alongside terracotta figurines, stone boxes, and great carved limestone lintels -- bring alive the form, texture, and color of their vanished world.« less