Elite Maya Pottery and Artisans as Social Indicators



Pre-Columbian Maya Classic period (A.D. 250–850) polychrome pottery underwent a metamorphosis during the sixth century A.D. to become a polyvalent pictorial and hieroglyphic narrative phenomenon whose transformation is tied directly to the period's sociopolitical developments. These specialized ceramics, created for and sometimes by members of the ruling stratum, are important indicators of the social and political dynamics of the Late Classic period (A.D. 550–850). This pictorial pottery informs on the heightened sociopolitical role of specialized crafting and also on that of the artists during this dynamic period. The elevated social identities of some of these artisans, in part created by a perceived connection between them and the gods of Creation, lent prestige to their crafted items. This constructed identity increased the social value of these crafted objects in their role as important accouterments of the sociopolitical power structures of the Late Classic period.