"A refreshing update that fills a gap in our current understanding of animal imagery and symbolism in the last centuries before the Spanish conquest.”
—Virginia E. Miller, University of Illinois Chicago
Birds and Beasts of Ancient Mesoamerica links Precolumbian animal imagery with scientific data related to animal morphology and behavior, providing in-depth studies of the symbolic importance of animals and birds in Postclassic period Mesoamerica.
Representations of animal deities in Mesoamerica can be traced back at least to Middle Preclassic Olmec murals, stone carvings, and portable art such as lapidary work and ceramics. Throughout the history of Mesoamerica real animals were merged with fantastical creatures, creating zoological oddities not unlike medieval European bestiaries. According to Spanish chroniclers, the Aztec emperor was known to keep exotic animals in royal aviaries and zoos. The Postclassic period was characterized by an iconography that was shared from central Mexico to the Yucatan peninsula and south to Belize. In addition to highlighting the symbolic importance of nonhuman creatures in general, the volume focuses on the importance of the calendrical and astronomical symbolism associated with animals and birds.
Contributors: Elizabeth Aguilera, Elizabeth Hill Boone, Allen Christenson, Jeanne L. Gillespie, Keith Jordan, Cecelia F. Klein, Cynthia Kristan-Graham, Leonardo López Luján, Elena Mazzetto, Israel Elizalde Mendez, Alejandra Aguirre Molina, Merideth Paxton, Jeanette Peterson, Emily Umberger, Gabrielle Vail