A Study of Dress and Identity in the Late Classic Maya Court

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This dissertation seeks to understand the relationship between ancient Maya identities and dress during the Late Classic period (A.D. 600-900), through an analysis of sartorial representations of members within the royal court. The specific research question that frames this dissertation is whether roles or offices within the ancient Maya royal court were made salient through dress. Rather than focus on one particular type of identity or office role, this dissertation takes a more holistic approach by considering all royal court members represented on painted ceramic vessels. In carefully examining painted imagery and providing a means of identifying inauthentic representations of dress, this research also helps to uncover the life histories of Maya ceramics. Using organizational dress theory, the study contributes a novel insight into the nature of Maya royal courts. It demonstrates that dress is a useful means of examining the political makeup and behaviour of courts, though at present it cannot alone speak to all the identities of those within the court. The study also reveals the difficulty of understanding active individuals from static representations, reflecting the fluidity with which courtiers were able to change dress and shift their identities. Overall, there is a lack of evidence that dress made specific courtly roles salient. Maya courtiers seem to have chosen dress elements that align with their gender identity and elite positioning—choices that were regulated by informal rules (or norms) in society.
Art History, Education--Social Sciences, Anthropology, Archaeology, History--Latin American, Museology
Tremain, C. G. (2017). A Study of Dress and Identity in the Late Classic Maya Court (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca. doi:10.11575/PRISM/25042