“These findings are very important for Maya studies, and they will force Mayanists to think differently about Maya texts. . . . [E]xciting, excellent contributions to the understanding of Maya culture.”
—Joel Palka, University of Illinois
“Highly compelling and an important book for advancing Maya studies. . . . This work reveals the complex intertextual relationships among numerous classes of material in Classic Maya visual and literary culture.”
—Michael D. Carrasco, Florida State University
"Bassie-Sweet and Hopkins marvelously weave ethnographic, linguistic, and iconographic data together throughout the volume, all with an eye on continuity."
—Latin American Antiquity
In Maya Narrative Arts, authors Karen Bassie-Sweet and Nicholas A. Hopkins present a comprehensive and innovative analysis of the principles of Classic Maya narrative arts and apply those principles to some of the major monuments of the site of Palenque. They demonstrate a recent methodological shift in the examination of art and inscriptions away from minute technical issues and toward the poetics and narratives of texts and the relationship between texts and images.
Bassie-Sweet and Hopkins show that both visual and verbal media present carefully planned narratives, and that the two are intimately related in the composition of Classic Maya monuments. Text and image interaction is discussed through examples of stelae, wall panels, lintels, benches, and miscellaneous artifacts including ceramic vessels and codices. Bassie-Sweet and Hopkins consider the principles of contrast and complementarity that underlie narrative structures and place this study in the context of earlier work, proposing a new paradigm for Maya epigraphy. They also address the narrative organization of texts and images as manifested in selected hieroglyphic inscriptions and the accompanying illustrations, stressing the interplay between the two.
Arguing for a more holistic approach to Classic Maya art and literature, Maya Narrative Arts reveals how close observation and reading can be equally if not more productive than theoretical discussions, which too often stray from the very data that they attempt to elucidate. The book will be significant for Mesoamerican art historians, epigraphers, linguists, and archaeologists.