A Thing Of Wonder: The Hand-held Object Of The Ancient Maya
Slade Lecture Series 2014-15 – Professor Mary Miller
From figurines to ceramic vessels to the painted book, the ancient Maya of modern-day Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras crafted fine works that were designed to be held in the hand, and that could be seen and understood only at that distance—the arm’s length, not more. In this series of lectures, Professor Mary Miller will bring the viewer nose-to-nose with these objects, interpreting how they were used and looking at the practices of facture and replication, as well as the meanings embedded in them, both in their use and in their final engagement, often deposition in the Maya tomb. Among the materials to be considered are Jaina figurines, in the context of what can now be recognized as a much broader figurine tradition; the ceramic vessel, with consideration of how such works are “read,” that is to say, reading order; Maya books, with attention to questions surrounding the Grolier Codex; precious “bling,” from jade and turquoise to gold, and particularly the 18 repoussé gold disks of Chichen Itza. Throughout the lecture series, Professor Miller will attend to the question of the question of the replica, the copy, and the multiple, all while keeping the social life of objects—their life in household and community—in clear consideration.