Ancient Maya Women (Gender and Archaeology) by Traci Ardren

By Traci Ardren

The flood of archaeological paintings in Maya lands has revolutionized our knowing of gender in historical Maya society. The dozen individuals to this quantity use a variety of methodological strategies―archaeology, bioarchaeology, iconography, ethnohistory, epigraphy, ethnography―to tease out the main points of the lives, activities, and identities of girls of Mesoamerica. The chapters, such a lot dependent upon fresh fieldwork in significant the United States, learn the position of ladies in Maya society, their position within the political hierarchy and lineage buildings, the gendered department of work, and the discrepancy among idealized Mayan womanhood and the day-by-day fact, between different issues. In every one case, the complexities and nuances of gender family members is highlighted and the constraints of our wisdom said. those items characterize a tremendous boost within the knowing of Maya socioeconomic, political, and cultural life―and the archaeology of gender―and could be of serious curiosity to students and scholars.

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Where Instituto National de Indigenas schools exist, these schools have reduced school hours precisely because schooling deprives the household of an important labor source-children (S. Gaskins, personal communication, 2I April 2000). In the northern Lacandon area few children attend school, and children of all ages participate in the work of the household, including child care (Boremanse I998; McGee I990). Throughout the Maya area, institutionalized schooling has had an effect on gender- and age-work relationships because children represent a large portion of the workforce but have been removed from it to attend school (see below; Palerm I 967).

The Yucatec Maya ethnohistoric and ethnographic records, in conjunction with ancient Maya codices, have furnished information regarding cultural norms and traditions serving to guide ancient Maya gender roles. They have also provided the full range of engendered behavior and associated tasks and tools associated with intensive agricultural strategies within the modern world (Spector and Whelan 1989). An examination of the precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial period documents provides the time depth necessary to examine continuity and change for Maya gender relations.

GENDER AND MAYA FARMING 19 Yucatec rituals and proverbs define corn farming as an ideal of masculinity. The central activities that are invoked to represent the masculinity of corn farming are cutting trees, burning fields, and planting corn seeds (Hanks 1990; Re Cruz 1996; Redfield and Villa Rojas 1934). Ritual incantations praise women as those who cook and men as those who farm. This idealized division between men's farmwork and women's food processing is one of complementarity whereby food production and food processing are seen as integral parts of the same production process (Hendon 1999; Joyce 1992b, 1996a; Re Cruz 1996).

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