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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews attempts to derive meaning from Late Classic Maya ceramic figurines. Early concerns with classificatory procedures have evolved beyond an often site-specific viewpoint to include more regional perspectives that incorporate technological characteristics and an awareness of manufacturing practices. Recent studies have gained inspiration from the content analysis of figural painted polychrome vessels or other relief renderings to permit interpretative forays into the meaning of the represented figurine imagery. Rather than discussing figurines as an isolated body of material culture, variation in theme, image and technology are being explored relative to depositional patterning, and relation to different social levels of ancient communities, especially the residue of ritual devotions. While these portable, miniaturized musical sculptures are still occasionally presented as singular objects that symbolize ancient lifeways, there is increasing recognition that when they are evaluated within the context of special deposits, deeper understandings may be inferred.

Keywords: Maya, figurine, ceramic, musical, miniature, mould-made

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