Knowledge and Belief in Artistic Production by Classic Maya Elites

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Abstract

Many of the beautiful pieces of Classic Maya art were produced by elite craftspeople. The study of this production system requires attention to the knowledge and beliefs underlying such activities. The production of art objects necessitated esoteric knowledge of the calendar, history, and religion, which was closely tied to the power and prestige of the elite. Elite artists, however, did not engage in production activities only for political gain. Their involvement in demanding physical work under potentially unpleasant conditions implies a commitment to—or at least conformity with—the cultural values associated with artistic production.

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