The Mayan civilization left the world a legacy of great achievement and innovation ― but the dreams of this culture would not have been realized without the help of paper. Paper enabled the Maya to perfect their calendar, which aided them in planning agricultural development. Paper also enabled them to improve their hieroglyphic writing, enhancing their oral traditions, and it helped them to plan and construct their extraordinary temples and palaces.
For centuries, however, little was known about how the art of papermaking evolved in the Americas. In this landmark study Victor Wolfgang von Hagen ― a noted historian and scholar of paper and papermaking ― traces, for the first time, the development of papermaking among the Aztec and Mayan cultures. Given the scarcity of surviving materials ― of the thousands of paper sheets and paper rolls manufactured by these early craftsmen, only three complete Maya codices have survived ― this achievement is remarkable indeed. Painstakingly researched, the book presents a comprehensive and detailed account of ancient American papermaking, including thorough discussions of the specific processes and materials used. Along the way, von Hagen reveals a wealth of little-known facts uncovered in the course of his prodigious research in the field and elsewhere. The resulting work was so highly regarded it was chosen by the American Institute of Graphic Arts as one of the fifty best books of 1944.
Complete with extensive editorial apparatus including an introduction, appendix, notes, and bibliography, this extraordinary study also contains six illustrations and 81 photographs that help to tell the fascinating story of papermaking in the Americas. The Aztec and Maya Papermakers is an essential addition to the libraries of historians, anthropologists, and students of paper or papermaking.