Figurines and the embodiment of culture
This thesis studies the ways in which Classic period Maya figurines reflect and embody the culture(s) of the area where they were being used. This thesis focuses specifically on a collection of figurines housed in the Middle American Research Institute (M.A.R.I.) from the Late Classic Maya site of Quirigua, Guatemala. Chapter 1 first examines the history of figurine use and production in Mesoamerica and then focuses on the use of figurines in the Maya area during the Classic-Late Classic period (~AD 250-900). Chapter 2 goes on to examine more in-depth the history and culture of Quirigua, as well as what is already understood about the site's figurines. Chapter 3 describes the types and methodology of analysis used to examine the collection (namely manufacturing technique, function, iconography, decoration, and source of production). Chapters 4 and 5 go into detail about the figurines from the collection. Chapters 6 and 7 subsequently analyze and discuss the findings. Quirigua's isolated nature, as well as its extensive corpus of stelae make it an ideal case study for examining how the culture of Quirigua impacted the figurines that were being produced and used, allowing archaeologists to study those systems that formed them. This study also shows that when different forms of analysis are applied to any collection of figurines, the ways in which those figurines ultimately embodied the culture they were interacting with can still be ascertained. This small collection, consisting of thirty-eight figurines, was donated to M.A.R.I. without any provenience associated with them, and yet, with proper analysis, they were able to provide insight into the people and culture of Quirigua.