chapter  7
Life at Court: The View from Bonampak *
ByMary Miller
Pages 22

This chapter examines what makes one think that the Bonampak murals provide a view of palace life. Some portions of the painting—say, the great battle painting—take place away from standing architecture. All other scenes transpire in association with architecture, animating what might otherwise be understood only archaeologically as unarticulated platforms or steps, and thus providing a way to read Maya architecture. The paintings depict two thrones in use. The single most important piece of Maya furniture also explicitly refers to the Maya palace, its exclusive place of use. Two known thrones with inverted trapezoidal legs, like those of the paintings, had particular palace contexts: first, the throne of the Oval Palace Tablet, House E, the Palenque palace; and second, Piedras Negras Throne 1, which had been set into the wall of J-6, within the Piedras Negras West Acropolis palace complex. Such placements confirm that the Bonampak paintings are referring in some scenes to activities at the heart of palace complexes.