Like Water for Chocolate: Feasting and Political Ritual among the Late Classic Maya at Xunantunich, Belize

  • Like Water for Chocolate: Feasting and Political Ritual among the Late Classic Maya at Xunantunich, Belize

by Lisa Lecount

 

 

Abstract

Subtle differences in the context of feasting and manners of food consumption can point to underlying levels of civil and social competition in state-level societies. Haute cuisine and high styles of dinning are characteristic of societies with fully developed civil and social hierarchies such as Renaissance Europe and the Postclassic Aztecs. Competitive yet socially circumscribed political and social organization such as the Classic lowland Maya may have prepared elaborate diacritical meals that marked status, but nature of feasting remained essentially patriarchal. Ancient Maya feasting is recognizable through archaeologically discernible pottery vessel forms that were used to serve festival fare such as tamales and chocolate. Comparison of ceramic assemblages across civic and household contexts at the site of Xunantunich, Belize, demonstrates that drinking chocolate, more so than eating tamales, served as a symbolic cue that established the political significance of events among the Classic Maya.

 

 

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Keywords: Feasting, ancient Maya, pottery analysis, chocolate

 

 

Suggested APA Reference: LeCount, L. (2001). Like Water for Chocolate: Feasting and Political Ritual among the Late Classic Maya at Xunantunich, Belize. American Anthropologist, Dec 103, 4, p. 935. 

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