7867 - Did captive representations on Classic Maya monuments acquire different meaning with the passage of time?

One of Kubler's axioms of the iconographic method is that a visible form often repeated may acquire different meaning over time. This presentation investigates this idea through the contextual analysis of Classic Maya lowland monuments which depict captives. Period ending stelae often show victorious Maya kings standing on prone, bound victims. These types of representations suggest that captives were used as symbols of successful warfare and political dominance. Following their erection, the monuments were frequently broken and their fragments later deposited in new contexts. Current opinion holds that the caching of these fragments, no matter whether consisting of the upper part (the ruler's head and torso) or the lower, depicting his legs and the body of the captive, commemorated the king to whom the monument was originally dedicated. In this presentation I suggest a different interpretation that is to say that during re-deposition of monument fragments which depict captives, the captive became the object of dedication. Additionally there exists a relationship between re-deposited monument fragments displaying captives - a process which probably started in the late Early Classic (fifth to sixth centuries AD) - and the depiction of captives on Late Classic (AD 600-900) altars in front of period ending stelae and on the steps of monumental stairways. The contextual analysis of the distribution of all these different types of captive monuments suggests that in the central Maya lowlands captives acquired different meaning through time. The depiction of a captive no longer necessarily celebrated humiliation of a victim and a king's triumph over an enemy but intended to glorify the captive's martyrdom and symbolized his deification.

Palabras claves: Maya, captives, monuments, iconography

Autores: Weiss-Krejci, Estella (University of Vienna, Austria / Österreich)


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