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Highland Maya Effigy Funerary Urns

Title: Highland Maya Effigy Funerary Urns: A Study of Genre, Iconography, and Function.
Name(s): McCampbell, Kathleen Garrett, author
Carrasco, Michael D., professor directing thesis
Leitch, Stephanie, committee member
De Grummond, Nancy, committee member
Danien, Elin, committee member
Department of Art History, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2010
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: This thesis investigates the effigy funerary urn as an important genre of Highland Maya art. Effigy funerary urns like the fifty-five examples that are the focus of this project date to the Terminal Classic to Early Postclassic Period and were produced within the northern areas of the Departments of Quiche and Huehuetenango in the Guatemalan Highlands, most likely in the area surrounding Nebaj. I examine the urns by addressing the interrelated issues of genre, iconography, and function to provide a holistic study of these objects. The iconographic and formal variations between the urns are explored and as a result, I identify three standard urn shapes and seven distinct iconographic categories. The urns boast a pervasive iconographic complex that features the Jaguar God of the Underworld, the Trefoil Jaguar, the old god of the hearth, and the Maize God. The true significance of these objects lies in the connection between this iconography and the urns' funerary function. I argue that this iconography makes explicit the analogy that exists between eschatology, the life cycle of maize, and the rebirth of the Maize God. I reveal how the iconographic complex informs and even directs the sacred cycle believed to take place within the urns, one shared by maize, the Maize God, and humans. The imagery effectively marks the urns as a location for sprouting or rebirth by providing the symbolic heat, water, and darkness necessary for this process. Effigy funerary urns, although they belong to a different class of objects, are conceptually linked to temples (mortuary structures), houses, and incensarios. These urns condense architectural tombs into a single ceramic vessel while preserving tomb symbolism and represent a distinct departure from other contemporaneous Highland funerary urns.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-2617 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Thesis submitted to the Department of Art History in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts.
Degree Awarded: .
Date of Defense: April 5, 2010.
Keywords: Popol Vuh, Mary Butler Lewis, Maize, Burial, Ceramic, Huehueteotl, Maize God, Jaguar, Tomb Symbolism, Funerary Ritual, Nebaj, Jaguar God of the Underworld
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Michael D. Carrasco, Professor Directing Thesis; Stephanie Leitch, Committee Member; Nancy de Grummond, Committee Member; Elin Danien, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Art -- History
Architecture -- History
Archaeology -- History
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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McCampbell, K.  G. (2010). Highland Maya Effigy Funerary Urns: A Study of Genre, Iconography, and Function. Retrieved from