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Symbolic Sweatbaths of the Maya: Architectural Meaning in the Cross Group at Palenque, Mexico

Stephen D. Houston
Latin American Antiquity
Vol. 7, No. 2 (Jun., 1996), pp. 132-151
DOI: 10.2307/971614
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/971614
Page Count: 20
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Symbolic Sweatbaths of the Maya: Architectural Meaning in the Cross Group at Palenque, Mexico
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Abstract

[English] The function of elite Maya architecture should not always be interpreted literally, for it may also reflect metaphorical and semantic extensions best studied through iconography, hieroglyphic texts, ethnohistory, and ethnography. This holistic approach is employed to help resolve puzzling features of the Cross Group sanctuaries at Palenque, Mexico. The Cross Group likely served as the setting for symbolic sweatbaths, probably involving effigies of supernaturals under the care of Kan Balam, the Palenque ruler who commissioned these structures. This and other arguments situate such information within an understanding of metaphor in Maya architecture. // [Spanish] A pesar de interpretaciones literales con respecto a la función y significado de la arquitectura maya en contextos de élite, este ensayo sugiere un enfoque distinto, dando énfasis a los datos iconográficos, epigráficos, etnohistóricos, y etnográficos para elucidar patrones de metáforas arquitectónicas. En particular, se refiere a unos rasgos enigmáticos del "Grupo de la Cruz" en la ciudad maya de Palenque, Chiapas, México. Tales rasgos demuestran una explicación puramente simbólica de este conjunto, el cual funcionaba como el centro de los "baños de vapor" utilizados por imágenes de los dioses dinásticos del sitio, a buen recaudo del gobernante Kan Balam, su guardian titular. Al fin, este ensayo subraya la importancia de simbolismo y las metáforas en la interpretación de arquitectura Maya.

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