Sunday, March 17, 2013

Rubbings of Ancient Maya Sculpture by Joan W. Patten is now available!

Cover Design By Paul Johnson

Hello Everyone,

My book Rubbings of Ancient Maya Sculpture by Joan W. Patten is now in print. The book Includes a short ten page biography along with a compilation of Maya Rubbings by the Late Joan W. Patten. While working for the Guatemalan Government in the '60's and '70's, she fashioned a large corpus of over 900 Maya Rubbings as well as replicas of ancient Maya sculpture:

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.

A selection of these rubbings can be viewed at the Mayaweb Art site under the 'rubbings' tab:

A preview of the book and book list is also available at:

I met Joan Patten toward the Autumn of her life in 1997 at a Bill Davies dinner party in San Luis Obispo, California. The connection was electric and we talked of all things Maya deep into the night. I later visited her apartment in San Francisco to assess her cast and rubbing collection that numbered over nine hundred images. I was stunned how well she captured the details of the glyphic writing that chronicled of the deeds of ancient gods and heroic kings. As I read the glyphic texts, she was equally impressed by how far Maya studies had advanced in breaking the Maya Code and reclaiming lost history. In the months that followed, I and my friends Jeff Buechler and Paul Johnson worked to document and preserve this unique record of Maya monumental sculpture. While attending the University of Texas in 2004, Joan called telling me she was diagnosed with cancer and we spoke of the beauty and brevity of life and how best to preserve her work for future study and scholarly access. Upon her passing, I received a letter from her son Keith Patten stating that Joan had asked that a portion of her rubbing collection be left to me along with her small library of Maya books. I was deeply touched and always knew I would return this gift with a publication on Joan’s work. 

If any of you know of any rubbings made by Joan send me an email so I can reference them and add them to the inventory.



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