ARCHIVES: Glyphs on Pots

by David Stuart

At the 2005 Maya Meetings at the University of Texas at Austin I presented a short analysis and overview of the “Dedicatory Formula,” the standardized glyphic text found on countless Maya ceramics and other (mainly) portable objects. This is also sometimes known as the “Primary Standard Sequence” (PSS), following Michael Coe’s original identification. As we came to understand during the 1980s, the Dedicatory Formula is basically a glorified name-tag for important objects and artworks.  At its core is a possessed noun for the thing itself (i.e., “her cup”) and the owner’s personal name. More extended versions add other details, such something about its decorative mode (painted or carved) and function (“for cacao,” for example). The Dedicatory Formula held great meaning in the artistic and economic life of Maya courts during the Early and Late Classic periods, marking personal connections for important prestige objects and gifts.


Here I’m posting a pdf of the 2005 sourcebook that accompanied my part of that year’s presentation, hoping it might be a useful resource. It should be noted that it doesn’t cover everything, and that some of the information here and there might be slightly out of date.

Glyphs on Pots: Decoding Classic Maya Ceramics by David Stuart (pdf file)

One thought on “ARCHIVES: Glyphs on Pots

  1. ruemligen September 11, 2013 / 1:43 PM

    For all who wants to know like I, the Picture is taken from a Vase (K3120) found at Burial 096 in Altar de Sacrificios, Peten, Guatemala. It is now at de Museo Nacional de Arqueologia y Etnologia in Guatemala City. A interessting Story about it can be found in National Geographic, December 1975, on page 774 with pictures from Otis Imboden.