Markers of Authority and Status

Kneeling figure with jaguar dress: Early Classic MayaKneeling figure with jaguar dress: Early Classic MayaFor various Amerindian groups, certain things or actions set the possessor, wearer or "doer" apart from the rest of the group. For example, this may take the form of a symbol of office, such as types of special dress or ornaments, such as headdresses or ear spools. Cultural diacritics serve to emphasize qualities of difference in certain contexts. A Gucci label, for example, might mark an especially well-made handbag. When displayed as a possession, it also expresses, potentially, the capacity (of its holder) to own one; the label or the handbag marks the holder as different; we understand the items as symbols of prestige and access. In many New World contexts, such symbols or actions in art expressed privileged roles and statuses, perhaps associated with age, access, pedigree, office, prestige or accomplishments.Ceramic mask with ear spools: Piartal TuzaCeramic mask with ear spools: Piartal Tuza
Figure on stool: La TolitaFigure on stool: La Tolita

G. Lau | Jun 2004