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New Perspectives on the Quatrefoil in Classic Maya Iconography; The Center and the Portal

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Date Issued:
2011
Abstract/Description:
The quatrefoil is a pan-Mesoamerican symbol with considerable time-depth. For the Maya, use of the symbol peaked during the Classic Period, reaching its highest frequency and largest geographical spread. Consequently, understanding its meaning has the potential to illuminate information about Precolumbian Maya worldview. While there have been several studies that focus on Preclassic Period quatrefoils, a similar study is lacking for Classic Period. Furthermore, the evaluations of the quatrefoil that do exist for the Classic Period are limited, often focusing on a select few examples. This thesis attempts to rectify the gap in extant research through an examination of the quatrefoil motif utilized by the Classic Period Maya. Specifically, the goal of the thesis was to determine whether the current interpretation of the quatrefoil as a cave is and also to investigate how the symbol communicated broader ideas about worldview and ideology. The approach that was utilized focuses on both archaeological and iconographic contexts. As an iconographic symbol, I attempt to understand the quatrefoil through the use of semiotics with particular emphasis on contextualization and analogy. The results of this study suggest that, while there were some patterns related to spatial distribution, the meaning of the quatrefoil motif was dependent on context and had considerable variations. I conclude that the analysis of the symbol, when based on specific usages and contexts, reveals that there is not enough evidence to support the current interpretation of quatrefoil as cave. Rather, the quatrefoil can be more accurately interpreted as a cosmogram that delineated information about how the Maya conceptualized, ordered, and accessed space that was appropriated by elites to reinforce and even legitimize political authority.
Title: New Perspectives on the Quatrefoil in Classic Maya Iconography; The Center and the Portal.
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Name(s): Egan, Rachel, Author
Chase, Arlen, Committee Chair
Barber, Sarah, Committee CoChair
Chase, Diane, Committee Member
, Committee Member
University of Central Florida, Degree Grantor
Type of Resource: text
Date Issued: 2011
Publisher: University of Central Florida
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: The quatrefoil is a pan-Mesoamerican symbol with considerable time-depth. For the Maya, use of the symbol peaked during the Classic Period, reaching its highest frequency and largest geographical spread. Consequently, understanding its meaning has the potential to illuminate information about Precolumbian Maya worldview. While there have been several studies that focus on Preclassic Period quatrefoils, a similar study is lacking for Classic Period. Furthermore, the evaluations of the quatrefoil that do exist for the Classic Period are limited, often focusing on a select few examples. This thesis attempts to rectify the gap in extant research through an examination of the quatrefoil motif utilized by the Classic Period Maya. Specifically, the goal of the thesis was to determine whether the current interpretation of the quatrefoil as a cave is and also to investigate how the symbol communicated broader ideas about worldview and ideology. The approach that was utilized focuses on both archaeological and iconographic contexts. As an iconographic symbol, I attempt to understand the quatrefoil through the use of semiotics with particular emphasis on contextualization and analogy. The results of this study suggest that, while there were some patterns related to spatial distribution, the meaning of the quatrefoil motif was dependent on context and had considerable variations. I conclude that the analysis of the symbol, when based on specific usages and contexts, reveals that there is not enough evidence to support the current interpretation of quatrefoil as cave. Rather, the quatrefoil can be more accurately interpreted as a cosmogram that delineated information about how the Maya conceptualized, ordered, and accessed space that was appropriated by elites to reinforce and even legitimize political authority.
Identifier: CFE0004105 (IID), ucf:49116 (fedora)
Note(s): 2011-12-01
M.A.
Sciences, Anthropology
Masters
This record was generated from author submitted information.
Subject(s): Anthropology -- Archaeology -- May -- Iconography
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/ucf/fd/CFE0004105
Restrictions on Access: public 2011-12-15
Host Institution: UCF

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