Maya Stela H, Copán.
Gender studies in ancient Maya culture and art often address the question of sexual identity.
Costume, which is gender distinctive among the modern Maya, has been a focus of attention and is usually assumed to be either masculine or feminine in archaeological contexts.
Masculine attire is generally represented as a hip cloth or loincloth, sometimes coupled with a short skirt. Feminine costume is typically a skirt worn to below the knee, sometimes accompanied by a long tunic-like huipil.
Occasionally in Maya art, the relationship between sexual identity and gender-marked costume is problematic when attempting to interpret the subject matter.
Stela H is an example of this. In an early account of the stela, Alfred P. Maudslay identified the skirted figure shown as a woman (1889-1902, 5:50). Subsequent work and the recovery of the inscriptions has determined that this monument actually represents Waxaklajuun Ub’aah K’awiil (18 Rabbit), the male ruler of Copán.
So why is he shown wearing the long skirt typical of women? One interpretation is that male rulers donned such “female” costumes for bloodletting ceremonies (Schele 1979). As argued by Andrea Stone (1988, 1991), such gender crossing is suggested in other aspects of Maya ceremonies.
Photo taken by Christine and John Fournier. Quoted segments from Traci Ardren’s Ancient Maya Women (2002).
“Legendary lands … have only one characteristic in common: whether they depend on ancient legends whose origins are lost in the mists of time or whether they are an effect of a modern invention, they have created flows of belief.”
I finished the Mistborn trilogy on Saturday morning and quite honestly am still reeling. The Hero of Ages was a beautiful conclusion, wrapping in so many tiny details from the first and second books and bringing around some completely left-field reveals that were perfectly executed. While on the one hand I wish it had been longer because I wanted more to read, Mistborn was paced just right from beginning to end with none of the lethargy that’s typical to even the best fantasy books and series (I’m looking at you, Crossroads of Twilight and A Feast for Crows. Eurgh). But even with the plot wrapped up as neatly as it was, I still appreciated that the ending wasn’t quite so closed as to be “andtheylivedhappilyeverafter OKAY BYE.” My first brush with Sanderson was his excellent work wrapping up Wheel of Time, so it was also a treat to see him working fully on his own.
Vin was a special treat for me. In a genre starved of women leads, and especially excellent ones written by men, Vin is an absolute standout. There is no tomboy trope here. She is ferocious, but she doesn’t eschew love or femininity and her struggles with identity are realistic and touching. I thought Elend was an excellent foil for her, despite wanting to punch him in the face approximately 70% of the time. But a loving punch. I also not infrequently wanted to land a few on dear Sazed, but he, too, was also frustratingly, endearingly realistic and was perhaps the character I ultimately identified with the most.
I’m excited to reread a few passages over the next few weeks and overall I think this trilogy will stand up well to rereading - I’m looking forward to finding the pieces that hint at the reveals in the last book that I couldn’t have caught the first time around, and watching more closely how the plots start to click together. There’s so much to discuss about these books that I’ll save for now in the interest of spoilers, but it’s so exciting to have something new to add to my best-loved shelves.
A selection of incredible portraits from photographer Charles Fréger’s collection and book Wilder Mann, documenting the ancient pagan rites still being practiced throughout Europe today.
From the New York Times Lens blog:
About 10,000 years ago, humans began domesticating wild animals for both food and companionship. Over the course of centuries, animal species were bred for traits that made them docile and more useful to their masters. But as humans changed and fenced in animals, they were also domesticating themselves. The skills needed to survive in the wild were different than those needed to succeed in more complex social arrangements.
Mr Fréger was intrigued by the transformations of human being to beast that he witnessed in 18 European countries. They were, he said, celebrations of fertility, life and death and symbolized the complicated relationship between mankind and nature.
Saw this series in the last issue of National Geographic. It is awesome.
So You’re Having A Bad Day zine (select pages).
Tips to feel better when you feel crap, sad, lazy, lonely, human.
I made this zine quite quickly and ferociously as a one-off gift for a close friend. A lot of the time, I only have a small window of time to appreciate my own work before I want to move on, so I have to pump these things out really quick to get them completed.
Carla’s illustrations fill my belly with happiness
Gurung Honey Hunters by Andrew Newey
Photographer Andrew Newey documented the ancient tradition of honey hunting in central Nepal. Perched precariously on rope ladders, honey hunters risk their lives to gather the honey, using only long sticks known as tangos to knock the honeycomb off the Himalayan cliffside and into baskets, which are then lowered to the ground.
deb morris specializes in photographing tiny waves - three to thirty centimeters high - that break on the coast near her home in new south wales. “my ‘waveart’ is my photographic passion,” she explains. “rather than just capturing frozen moments from this beautiful landscape, i have found a whole new hidden world to investigate. i endeavour to capture those moments the naked eye misses, trying to provide an alternative look to the average wave shots of today.”