Poetic composition: Narrative sequence and chiastic arrangement of imagery in the iconographic narrative of the Palenque cross group

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

It is the aim of this thesis to provide a new interpretation of the Late Classic Cross Group monument in Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico. My analysis of the Cross Group focuses on the iconography. I examine whether or not the designers of the monument employed specific patterns of composition to arrange the iconography. Furthermore, I determine if such patterns of composition communicate larger cultural ideologies. My argument explores two lines of evidence. The first is the iconography’s relationship to other forms of cultural communication, specifically Maya textual discourse. The second is the spatial arrangement of decorated surfaces within each temple and the temples’ positions relative to one another and to the cardinal directions. The exploration of these two lines of evidence leads me to the following conclusions. I propose that the Palenque Cross Group contains an iconographic narrative with structures analogous to those of Late Classic hieroglyphic texts. Moreover, I suggest that the iconographic narrative is arranged in a poetic chiasmus parallelism that spans all three temples. Ultimately, I conclude that the poetic composition of iconography illustrates the following aspects of Late Classic Maya cultural ideology: the arrangement of time and space, the organization of the celestial, earthly, and underworld places, and the role of the Maya king.

Art history, Palenque, Cross group, Chiasmus, Poetry, Narrative, Textual discourse, Iconography