Reading Maya Art: A Hieroglyphic Guide to Ancient Maya Painting and Sculpture by Andrea Stone and Marc Zender. Thames and Hudson, London and New York, 2011.
Lavishly illustrated, fully cross-referenced and indexed: an invaluable book for anyone wishing to see and understand Maya art through the eyes of ancient scribes and artists.
The art of the ancient Maya may be considered their most singular cultural achievement. Yet despite a surge of popular interest in these remarkable people, few are fully aware of the richness of their artistic legacy, unique in all of pre-Columbian America. Maya art is a rare combination of linear elegance and naturalism blended with dazzling symbolic complexity. Decorated objects, ranging from painted vases and carved jade and shell ornaments to towering stone monuments and building facades, bear the traces of a symbol system that, while fascinating, can make an understanding of these images elusive to the uninitiated.
Presented here for the first time is a compendium of one hundred hieroglyphs that are also the building blocks of ancient Maya painting and sculpture. Organized thematically, the symbols touch on many facets of the Maya world, from the natural environment—animals, plants, the heavens—to the mental landscape of gods, myths, and rituals. Using hundreds of line drawings and photographs, Andrea Stone and Marc Zender show how to identify these signs, understand their meaning, and appreciate the novel ways they appear in art. In addition to providing a basic introduction, the authors also offer many new and exciting interpretations. 535 black-and-white illustrations