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Aztec Religion and Art of Writing

Investigating Embodied Meaning, Indigenous Semiotics, and the Nahua Sense of Reality

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Isabel Laack

In her groundbreaking investigation from the perspective of the aesthetics of religion, Laack explores the religion and art of writing of the pre-Hispanic Aztecs of Mexico. Inspired by postcolonial approaches, she reveals Eurocentric biases in academic representations of Aztec cosmovision, ontology, epistemology, ritual, aesthetics, and the writing system to provide a powerful interpretation of the Nahua sense of reality.

Laack transcends the concept of “sacred scripture” traditionally employed in religions studies in order to reconstruct the Indigenous semiotic theory and to reveal how Aztec pictography can express complex aspects of embodied meaning. Her study offers an innovative approach to nonphonographic semiotic systems, as created in many world cultures, and expands our understanding of human recorded visual communication.

This book will be essential reading for scholars and readers interested in the history of religions, Mesoamerican studies, and the ancient civilizations of the Americas.

'This excellent book, written with intellectual courage and critical self-awareness, is a brilliant, multilayered thought experiment into the images and stories that made up the Nahua sense of reality as woven into their sensational ritual performances and colorful symbolic writing system.'
Davíd Carrasco, Harvard University
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Mesoamerican Manuscripts

New Scientific Approaches and Interpretations

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Mesoamerican Manuscripts: New Scientific Approaches and Interpretations brings together a wide range of modern approaches to the study of pre-colonial and early colonial Mesoamerican manuscripts. This includes innovative studies of materiality through the application of non-invasive spectroscopy and imaging techniques, as well as new insights into the meaning of these manuscripts and related visual art, stemming from a post-colonial indigenous perspective.

This cross- and interdisciplinary work shows on the one hand the value of collaboration of specialists in different field, but also the multiple viewpoints that are possible when these types of complex cultural expressions are approached from varied cultural and scientific backgrounds.

Contributors are: Omar Aguilar Sánchez, Paul van den Akker, Maria Isabel Álvarez Icaza Longoria, Frances F. Berdan, David Buti, Laura Cartechini, Davide Domenici, Laura Filloy Nadal, Alessia Frassani, Francesca Gabrieli, Maarten E.R.G.N. Jansen, Rosemary A. Joyce, Jorge Gómez Tejada, Chiara Grazia, David Howell, Virginia M. Lladó-Buisán, Leonardo López Luján, Raul Macuil Martínez, Manuel May Castillo, Costanza Miliani, María Olvido Moreno Guzmán, Gabina Aurora Pérez Jiménez, Araceli Rojas, Aldo Romani, Francesca Rosi, Antonio Sgamellotti, Ludo Snijders, and Tim Zaman.
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Holy Organ or Unholy Idol?

The Sacred Heart in the Art, Religion, and Politics of New Spain

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Lauren G. Kilroy-Ewbank

Holy Organ or Unholy Idol? focuses on the significance of the cult of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and its accompanying imagery in eighteenth-century New Spain. Lauren G. Kilroy-Ewbank considers paintings, prints, devotional texts, and archival sources within the Mexican context alongside issues and debates occurring in Europe to situate the New Spanish cult within local and global developments. She examines the iconography of these religious images and frames them within broader socio-political and religious discourses related to the Eucharist, the sun, the Jesuits, scientific and anatomical ideas, and mysticism. Images of the Heart helped to champion the cult’s validity as it was attacked by religious reformers.
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Domestic Devotions in Early Modern Italy illuminates the vibrancy of spiritual beliefs and practices which profoundly shaped family life in this era. Scholarship on Catholicism has tended to focus on institutions, but the home was the site of religious instruction and reading, prayer and meditation, communal worship, multi-sensory devotions, contemplation of religious images and the performance of rituals, as well as extraordinary events such as miracles. Drawing on a wide range of sources, this volume affirms the central place of the household to spiritual life and reveals the myriad ways in which devotion met domestic needs. The seventeen essays encompass religious history, the histories of art and architecture, material culture, musicology, literary history, and social and cultural history. Contributors are Dotan Arad, Kathleen Ashley, Martin Christ, Hildegard Diemberger, Marco Faini, Iain Fenlon, Suzanna Ivanič, Jungyoon Yang, Debra Kaplan, Marion Katz, Soyeon Kim, Hester Lees-Jeffries, Borja Franco Llopis, Alessia Meneghin, Francisco J. Moreno Díaz del Campo, Maria Cristina Osswald, Kathleen Ryor, Igor Sosa Mayor, Hanneke van Asperen, and Torsten Wollina.
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Emblems in Scotland

Motifs and Meanings

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Michael Bath

Emblems in the visual arts use motifs which have meanings, and in Emblems in Scotland Michael Bath, leading authority on Renaissance emblem books, shows how such symbolic motifs address major historical issues of Anglo-Scottish relations, the Reformation of the Church and the Union of the Crowns. Emblems are enigmas, and successive chapters ask for instance: Why does a late-medieval rood-screen show a jester at the Crucifixion? Why did Elizabeth I send Mary Queen of Scots tapestries showing the power of women to build a feminist City of God? Why did a presbyterian minister of Stirling decorate his manse with hieroglyphics? And why in the twentieth-century did Ian Hamilton Finlay publish a collection of Heroic Emblems?