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The site of Jaina island, for which Jaina figures are named, is unique in comparison to the sites where other Maya ceramic figurines have been found due to the scale and specially developed burial culture involving ceramic figurines that developed there (McVicker 2011: 211). The exceptional and artistic renderings and context for these figures from Campeche, Mexico has led to problems of looting and forgeries that have created obstacles for scholars trying to understand this body of work. A careful consideration of the stylistic features and grouping of individual figurines to determine their authenticity and meaning is therefore a step that can be undertaken to attempt to chip away at this problem. Such an opportunity for study exists in SAMA 64.289.94, a Jaina figurine from the San Antonio Museum of Art’s off-exhibition collection. Considerations of style, form, burial context, ritual use, and representation in the system of Maya iconography and cosmology building off of past scholarship will be considered to come to an interpretation of this figure’s practical and more theoretical purposes of representation. In this paper, I argue that the Jaina-style figurine SAMA 64.289.94 embodies the intersection of socio-economic and ritual life symbolically centered in the figure of the Maya woman and her specific role within cosmological ideology, demonstrating the value of Jaina figurines with the potential to enrich our understanding of the ancient Maya.


Distinction of Excellence Award for Impact on Research Topic Beyond the Classroom

Course: ANTH/ARTH 3335