Rubbings Of Ancient Maya Monuments By Joan W. Patten


About the artist

American Sculptor Joan W. Patten (1924-2005) lived and traveled extensively throughout Guatemala from 1965-1982. The Guatemalan Government granted Joan official, carte blanche permission to make molds, casts and replicas of ancient Preclassic (1500 BC-250 AD) and Classic (250-900 AD) Maya relief sculpture. Her replicas of Maya stelae currently stand in Guatemala’s Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, the National Zoo and at the Museo Popol Vuh gardens at Francisco Marroquín University. In addition to the replicas, she executed hundreds of rubbings in oils on colored fabric. With a sculptor’s touch and infinite patience, she rendered images onto cloth that are remarkably sharp in detail and line. The rubbings include images that preserve an abundance of information about Maya sculptural traditions, iconography, hieroglyphic writing, mythology and history.
Rubbings: a graphic tool for archaeological preservation

Rubbings are well suited for copying images carved in low relief and are free of light distortions often found in photographs. They also serve as a quick way to record information before it is lost to the ravages of time. Rubbings are negative prints of carved, engraved, or textured surfaces. The technique involves three basic steps. First, the surface of the carving is carefully cleaned of dirt and debris. Second, a sheet of paper or cloth is stretched and secured over the surface. Third, ink or other suitable paints is rubbed and tamped onto the sheet. The final result transfers the image from a carved stone to the sheet. The colored ink highlights the carving’s raised surfaces while incised surfaces of the stone are left blank. In the case of the Patten rubbings, multi-colored oils were applied to colored fabrics. The end result produces a polychromatic effect resulting in bold and vibrant contrasts.

Additional Information

The Joan W. Patten Collection of Maya Rubbings is part of the Maya Sculpture Preservation Project established by Carl D. Callaway and Jeffrey A. Buechler in 1997. The project seeks to recover, preserve, record and facilitate scholarly access to this rare corpus of Maya sculpture. For further inquires, please contact Carl D. Callaway via the contact page of Mayaweb. The long awaited book 'Rubbings of Ancient Maya Sculpture by Joan W. Patten' is now selling through Mayawebart Press.