Maya Blue

Living reference work entry

Latest version View entry history

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-3934-5_10170-2

Maya Blue is a unique blue pigment used on murals, pottery, sculpture, and codices in ancient Mesoamerica (e.g., the Madrid Codex, Buti et al., 2014). Unlike organic pigments, or those produced by minerals such as azurite or lapis lazuli, Maya Blue is a unique nanostructured clay-organic complex of the clay mineral palygorskite and indigo. It is resistant to dilute acids, alkalis, solvents, oxidants, reducing agents, moderate heat, and bio-corrosion, and its color has persisted for hundreds of years in one of the world’s harshest climates – the tropical lowlands of Mesoamerica.

Although found in many parts of Mesoamerica including Aztec central Mexico, Maya Blue was used predominantly by the Maya beginning in the Late Preclassic period from 300 B.C. to A.D. 300 (Vázquez de Agredos Pascual, Doménech Carbó, & Doménech Carbó, 2011) and persisted until the Spanish conquest. It is found most frequently in Maya Classic and Postclassic contexts such as Chichén Itzá (Fig. 1), Mayapán (Fig. 2),...

Keywords

Ancient Source Spanish Conquest Burning Incense Channel Groove Palygorskite Clay 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access

References

  1. Arnold, D. E. (1967). Sak lu’um in Maya culture and its possible relationship to Maya Blue (Department of Anthropology Research Reports No. 2). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois.Google Scholar
  2. Arnold, D. E. (1971). Ethnomineralogy of Ticul, Yucatán potters: Etics and emics. American Antiquity, 36, 20–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arnold, D. E. (2005). Maya Blue and palygorskite: A second possible pre-Columbian source. Ancient Mesoamerica, 16, 51–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arnold, D. E. (2008). Social change and the evolution of ceramic production and distribution in a Maya Community. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.Google Scholar
  5. Arnold, D. E., & Bohor, B. F. (1975). Attapulgite and Maya Blue: An ancient mine comes to light. Archaeology, 28, 23–29.Google Scholar
  6. Arnold, D. E., Bohor, B. F., Neff, H., Feinman, G. M., Williams, P. R., et al. (2012). The first direct evidence of pre-Columbian sources of palygorskite for Maya Blue. Journal of Archeological Science, 39, 2252–2260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Arnold, D. E., Branden, J. R., Williams, P. R., Feinman, G. M., & Brown, J. P. (2008). The first direct evidence for the production of Maya Blue: Rediscovery of a technology. Antiquity, 82, 152–164.Google Scholar
  8. Arnold, D. E., Neff, H., Glascock, M. D., & Speakman, R. J. (2007). Sourcing the Palygorskite used in Maya Blue: A pilot study comparing the results of INAA and LA-ICP-MS. Latin American Antiquity, 18(1), 44–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Buti, D., Domenici, D., Miliani, C., García Saíz, C., Gómez Espinoza, T., et al. (2014). Non-invasive investigation of a pre-Hispanic Maya screenfold book: The Madrid Codex. Journal of Archaeological Science, 42, 166–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cabrera Garrido, J. M. (1969). El ‘Azul Maya’ (Informes y Trabajos del Instituto de Conservación y Restauración de Obras de Arte 8). Madrid: Arqueología y Etnología.Google Scholar
  11. Chiari, G., Guiustetto, R., Druzik, J., Doenne, E., & Ricchiardi, G. (2008). Pre-Columbian nanotechnology: Reconciling the mysteries of the Maya Blue pigment. Applied Physics A: Materials Science & Processing, 90, 3–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Doménech, A., Doménech-Carbó, M. T., & Edwards, H. G. M. (2011). On the interpretation of the Raman spectra of Maya Blue: A review on the literature data. Journal of Raman Spectroscopy, 42, 86–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Doménech, A., Doménech-Carbó, M. T., & Vázquez de Agredos Pascual, M. L. (2007). Chemometric study of Maya Blue from the voltammetry of microparticles approach. Analytical Chemistry, 79, 2812–2821.Google Scholar
  14. Folan, W. J. (1969). Sacalum, Yucatán: A pre-Hispanic and contemporary source of attapulgite. American Antiquity, 34, 182–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Haude, M. E. (1998). Identification of colorants on maps from the early Colonial period of New Spain (Mexico). Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, 37, 240–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Krekler, M. P. S., & Kearns, L. E. (2009). A new locality of palygorskite-rich clay from the southeastern Yucatán: A potential material source for environmental applications. Environmental Geology, 58, 715–726.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Reyes-Valerio, C. (1993). De Bonampak al Templo Mayor: El Azul Maya en Mesoamérica. Mexico, DF: Siglo XXI.Google Scholar
  18. Sánchez del Río, M., Doménech, A., Doménech-Carbó, M. T., Vázquez de Agredos Pascual, M. L., Suárez, M., & García-Romero, E. (2011). The Maya Blue pigment. In Developments in clay science (Vol. 3, pp. 453–481). Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  19. Sánchez del Río, M., Martinetto, P., Reyes-Valerio, C., Dooryée, E., & Suárez, M. (2006). Synthesis and acid resistance of Maya Blue pigment. Archaeometry, 48, 115–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sánchez del Río, M., Suárez, M., & García Romero, E. (2009). The occurrence of palygorskite in the Yucatán peninsula: Ethno-historic and archaeological contexts. Archaeometry, 59, 214–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Torres, L. M. (1988). Maya Blue: How the Mayas could have made the pigment. In Materials issues in art and archaeology (Proceedings of the materials research society, Vol. 123, pp. 123–128). Pittsburgh, PA: Materials Research Society.Google Scholar
  22. Tozzer, A. M. (1941 [1566]). Landa’s Relación de los Cosas de Yucatán (Trans. Papers of the Peabody Museum) (Vol. 18). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.Google Scholar
  23. Vázquez de Agredos Pascual, M. L., Doménech Carbó, M. T., & Doménech Carbó, A. (2011). Characterization of Maya Blue pigment in pre-classic and classic monumental architecture of the ancient pre-Columbian city of Calakmul (Campeche, Mexico). Journal of Cultural Heritage, 12, 140–148.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Adjunct Curator of Latin American AnthropologyThe Field MuseumChicagoUSA