Accepted Paper:

Stepping into Abyss. Image, Text, Temporality and Personhood at Yaxchilán Hieroglyphic Staircase 2.  
Hilda del Carmen Landrove Torres (National Autonomous University of Mexico)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the use of 'mise en abyme' in Yaxchilán Hieroglyphic Staircase 2 and it´s relation to ritual, temporality construction and personhood among the Maya of Classic Period (600-900 A.C.).

Paper long abstract:

In Yaxchilán, Hieroglyphic Staircase 2 Step 7, there is an example of 'mise en abyme' as conceptualized by Gide and Dӓllenbach: a scale image within and image on the same subject. The repeated image is that of a human being (Yaxuun Balam IV) in ball player's costume ready to strike a ball that seems to contain a captive, falling from the stair. The scene, completed with two dwarfs on the right side, includes a hieroglyphic text.

In this paper, I will argue that we can considerer the use of this recursive device in Step 2 not limited to the carved image, but extended to the totality of the staircase with the other twelve steps that compose it and to the ritual act celebrated on it, a dedicatory secuence involving the sacrifice of a captive. This extension may be considered as different scales in the reenactment of the mythical episode described in the text of the image, where the first instance of 'mise en abyme' appears.

'Mise en abyme' has been studied in literature, visual arts, and also in the ethnographic field (e.g. Cesarino and Severi). In Mesoamerican Studies has been explored by Frassani for codex and ritual chants. Building on previous theoretical elaborations, i will explore this particular case considering both image and text as well as the plausible reconstruction of the original context to explore the construction of temporality and the concept of personhood among the Maya of the region around VII and VIII A.C.

Panel P052
Artefacts and visual systems in Oceania and America