Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1697 Yucatec holkan

Subject: nakom captain of holkan mercenaries
Culture: Yucatec Mayan
Setting: last post-classical period, Yucatan/Guatemala 1527-1704
Object: ornaments


* Sayer 1985 p43
"It seems from sixteenth-century accounts that the lower classes wore nose and ear ornaments, generally fashioned from bone, shell, stone or wood.  The range of jewellery displayed by the nobility was, of course, far wider and more lavish: visual sources repeatedly show wrist- and knee-bands, anklets and brooches, together with a variety of necklaces including pectorals, pendants and wide collars.  To make these adornments jewellers used shell, feathers, jade, obsidian, amber, bone, jaguar teeth and claws, as well as alligator teeth.  Gold and copper artefacts from the Cenote also prove that in later times these metals were hammered and decorated with repoussé technique.  In order to accommodate the flaring ear-plugs which are so frequently shown ear lobes were pierced and stretched.  Another custom involved the piercing of the septum to receive nose ornaments.  Post-Classic representations from Chichén Itzá show nostril buttons, but this is thought by Alfred M. Tozzer to be a Toltec tradition introduced from central Mexico."

* Landa tr. Gates 1987 p73
"After a victory they cut off the jawbones from the dead, and hung them clean of flesh on their arms."

* Jones 1998 p211 (describing Itzas)
"[T]he men ... wore silver and gold eardrops ...."

Body Art

* Sayer 1985 p49
"As if clothing did not provide enough decoration, the Maya also favoured tattooing and body-painting ....  Men tattooed their bodies, and the more they do this, the more brave and valiant are they considered, as tattooing is accompanied with great suffering', wrote Landa ....  Francisco de Cárdenas Valencia, in his Relación of 1639 for the province of Yucatán, gave a description of Maya warriors whose bodies were entirely 'daubed with earth of many colours so that they appear as most ferocious devils'.  In peacetime red was the usual colour for both the body and face, 'and although it was very unbecoming of them, yet they thought it very pleasing', observed Landa.  According to this same authority, black paint related to periods of fasting, or was used to show that a young man was as yet unmarried.  Both colours were associated with warriors, but blue was the prerogative of priests.
"The symbolic value of colours was central to Maya customs and beliefs.  According to Sylvanus Morley, blue was associated with sacrifice.  Black, as the colour of obsidian, represented weapons of war, while red stood for blood.  Yellow was the colour of ripe corn, and therefore represented food.  Colours were also linked to the cardinal points.  Red corresponded to the east, white to the north, black to the west, yellow to the south, and green to the axis mundi which was the central pole that pierced the several layers of the universe."