Rubbings of Mayan Stone Stelae

STELA 16 - AD 849
40" X 68"

Tikal Stela 16
© James A. McBride II

   In this full Classic monument the representation of the human figure is subordinated to detail of dress and ornament. The feet are at a hundred and eighty degree angle; the body what can be seen of it-is full face; the head is in profile.

   A preoccupation with ornamental design, rather than with the essential outlines of the human figure, is characteristic of the Ornate Phase (ca. A.D. 700-750) and is well exemplified by this sculpture. The standing figure embellished with his accountrements, stands out clearly as a self-contained unit, and the pose is essentially static. Attention is given each elaborate detail of dress. The viewerÕs eye is not directed toward items which an artist might have wished to emphasize as of greater symbolic or decorative importance. In this respect, the Ornate Phase tended to differ from the ensuing Dynamic Phase (ca. A. D. 700-750) throughout most of the Southern Maya Lowlands. Nevertheless, certain monuments dating from the Ornate Phase, especially at Palenque, achieved a freedom of composition by separating symbolic decoration from the human body, thereby enabling the artist to show both to advantage.