Accepted Paper:

Mayan offering vessels as tools for creation  

Author:

Ana Somohano Eres (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses in the creative feature of the Maya offering vessels. The iconography expressed on them, as well as the offerings they contained, expressly recreated the aquatic environment, considered by the Maya a setting for creation, elicited by the drying of the environment.

Paper long abstract:

Research on pre-Columbian art in America has been based on methodologies and concepts designed to understand occidental art. Consequently, pre-Colonial artistic manifestations have been analysed either from an aesthetic point of view, or as sources of information about the pre-Conquest cultures. Even though these approaches are undoubtedly enriching and give us a profound knowledge of the pre-Columbian art, many times they disregard other roles that art played in these societies.

Alfred Gell's studies of anthropology of art in other parts of the world, and his highlighting the agency intrinsic to the different artistic manifestations, resulted in various specialists in native American art questioning themselves about the agency of art in their areas of study, mainly in the Amazonian rainforest, a line of research that has rendered fascinating results. Despite the fact that these approaches have not been extensively used in the study of pre-Columbian societies, they have been recently applied to the Maya culture, demonstrating, for instance, that Maya stelae could be part of the dividual body of the Maya ruler.

This paper aims to use this perspective in the study of the offering vessels of the Prehispanic Maya. Following the premise that for the Maya, the aquatic environment was a setting of potential creation which was activated upon desiccation, I will analyse how the iconography and contents of those vessels recreated the aquatic environment. Furthermore, these vessels were exposed to fire during ritual activities, thus promoting their creative agency. Hence, Maya offerings vessels were a tool for creating the world.

Panel P102
Art beyond visual (cognitive designs) as creative praxis: A nexus for uncertain worldview