Wearing Culture: Dress and Regalia in Early Mesoamerica and Central America

by Heather Orr & Matthew Looper


Wearing Culture connects scholars of divergent geographical areas and academic fields-from archaeologists and anthropologists to art historians-to show the significance of articles of regalia and of dressing and ornamenting people and objects among the Formative period cultures of ancient Mesoamerica and Central America.

Documenting the elaborate practices of costume, adornment, and body modification in Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Oaxaca, the Soconusco region of southern Mesoamerica, the Gulf Coast Olmec region (Olman), and the Maya lowlands, this book demonstrates that adornment was used as a tool for communicating status, social relationships, power, gender, sexuality, behavior, and political, ritual, and religious identities. Despite considerable formal and technological variation in clothing and ornamentation, the early indigenous cultures of these regions shared numerous practices, attitudes, and aesthetic interests. Contributors address technological development, manufacturing materials and methods, non-fabric ornamentation, symbolic dimensions, representational strategies, and clothing as evidence of interregional sociopolitical exchange.

Focusing on an important period of cultural and artistic development through the lens of costuming and adornment, Wearing Culture will be of interest to scholars of pre-Hispanic and pre-Columbian studies.

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