Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>730 Late Classic Maya sahal
Subjectsahal noble war chief
Culture: Maya
Setting: Late Classical Period, Mesoamerica ca.600-900

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Gallenkamp 1987 p120-121
"While warfare may have been limited in scope, militarism obviously played an important role in Classic-period society.  Raids and skirmishes constantly took place, touched off perhaps by territorial disputes, feuds between rulers of neighboring cities, or the need for sacrificial victims and slaves.  Such a conflict is vividly portrayed in murals at Bonampak, and scenes on pottery and sculptured monuments repeatedly depict combat and figures of prisoners or slaves kneeling before their captors.  Some students believe that by the Late Classic period, warfare had become 'institutionalized,' with a military elite, semiprofessional warriors, and greatly expanded objectives aimed at outright conquest of neighboring cities, control of natural resources, and domination of trade routes."

Costume (Headdress, Jewelry, Armor)

* Weber 2005 p16
"Warriors belonged to the elite of Maya society, and the highest-ranking warriors sometimes wore jaguar pelts like royalty.  Going into battle, a Mayan warrior wore quilted cotton body armor, a square chest ornament, and a battle headdress intended to frighten his opponents.  He carried a sharp stone spear, mace, ax, or arrows, and a wooden shield decorated with tassels.  The Maya often went to war with the objective of finding victims for sacrificial rituals.  During these rituals, warrior chiefs wore tunics decorated with symbols relating to the occasion, and elaborate pectoral jewelry depicting animals and humans."

* Schele/Miller 1986 p213-214
"While the costume of the victorious warrior varied from site to site, at many sites the king wore Tlaloc imagery. ...  During the Late Classic period, Tlaloc and other Teotihuacan costumes are worn in battle and in bloodletting rituals.  On Lintel 41 of Structure 42 and Lintel 8 of Structure 1, for example, Bird Jaguar wears what may be a skeletal Tlaloc mask in his headdress; on Lintel 8, the mask is set above the trapeze-and-ray symbol that accompanies the mask, forming part of the bloodletting costume.  This combination is worn by men and women both when they let blood and when they make war (itself an act of ritual bloodletting), a fact that may account for the nearly identical costuming of these two events.
"Frequently, jaguar pelt and jaguar imagery are added to the Tlaloc costume.  At Piedras Negras, warriors wear a costume that bears elements derived from the Teotihuacan representation of jaguars, and, like those from Teotihuacan, the jaguar is often shown as a mosaic plated beast.  At Yaxchilan, the consistency of dress worn in images of several generations suggests that actual costumes were inherited."

* Gallenkamp 1987 p121
"[W]ar was a ritualistic activity.  It was invariably accompanied by ceremonies intended to enlist the support of appropriate gods (whose images were carried into battle by priests), and it occurred in an atmosphere of elaborate pageantry.  Warriors shown in the Bonampak frescoes are clad in gorgeous headdresses, jade ornaments, and jaguar-skin capes, and are attended by individuals blowing wooden trumpets and holding feathered banners or parasols above their heads."

* Schele/Miller 1986 p211 (describing Lintel 26 at Yaxchilan, ca. 725)
"[O]ne of his wives helps Shield Jaguar dress for battle ....  Like a Maya Penelope dressing a departing Ulysses, she hands him a flexible shield of woven mat and a water-lily jaguar helmet.  He already holds a knife ..., and has donned a shawl-like wrap of cotton armor over a xicolli, or jerkin, with a woven mat design."  


* Gallenkamp 1987 p121
"Judging from representations in sculpture and paintings, Classic-period weapons were limited to short spears tipped with flint or obsidian points, wooden clubs, flint knives, and shields."