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Art and Architecture

Oct - 22 - 2012
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The art of the Maya, as with every civilization, is a reflection of their lifestyle and culture. The mayan art was composed of delineation and painting upon paper and plaster, carvings in wood and stone, clay and stucco models, and terra cotta figurines from molds. The technical process of metal working was also highly developed but as the resources were scarce, they only created ornaments in this media. Many of the great programs of Maya art, inscriptions, and architecture were commissioned by Mayan kings to memorialize themselves and ensure their place in history. The prevailing subject of their art is not anonymous priests and unnamed gods but rather men and women of power that serve to recreate the history of the people. The works are a reflection of the society and its interaction with surrounding people.

One of the greatest shows of Mayan artistic ability and culture is the hieroglyphic stairway located at Copan. The stairway is an iconographical complex composed of statues, figures, and ramps in addition to the central stairway which together port ray many elements of Mayan society, pgint of mayan art. An alter is present as well as many pictorial references of sacrifice and their gods. More importantly than all the imagery captured with in this monument, however, is the history of the royal descent depicted in the heiroglyphs and various statues.

The figurine of a seated captive is also representative of Mayan society as it depicts someone in the process of a bloodletting ceremony, which included the accession to kingship. This figure is of high rank as depicted by his expensive earrings and intricately woven hip cloth. The rope collar which would usually mark this man as a captive, reveals that he is involved in a bloodletting rite. His genitals are exposed as he is just about to draw blood for the ceremony.

In the Indian communities, as it was with their Mayan ancestors, the basic staple diet is corn. The clothing worn is as it was in the past. It is relatively easy to determine the village in which the clothing was made by the the type of embroidery, color, design and shape. Mayan dialects of Qhuche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, and Mam are still spoken today, although the majority of Indians also speak Spanish.
One of the most common Mayan art themes painted on Maya vases is the royal audience. The ahau, seated characteristically with legs folded, receives visitors. At times the names of the ahau and his visitors are given in glyphs. Most interesting are the details: clothing styles and decorative patterning, face painting, masks worn, gestures made and so forth. Many vases show vases as well as indicate the style of interior decor with its curtains, pillows, and thrones. Hats were of crucial importance to Maya social identity. Often the ahau receiving visitors wears a conical turban hat with a large flower in front of it and quetzal feathers behind; sometimes a hummingbird or fish is attached to the front of that large flower.
he elements on the head of this dragon are supposedly instruments of self-sacrifice They are found at the base of the supernatural tree displayed as a “cross” on Palenque temples.

The art in which above all the Maya excelled, and through which they are best known, is architecture. The splendid ruins of temples, pyramids, and great cities – some of which were intact and occupied at the time of the conquest – scattered by scores and hundreds throughout the forests of Yucatan, have been the wonder and admiration of travellers for over half a century, since they were first brought prominently to notice by Stephens.

About art of maya says Brinton: “The material was usually a hard limestone, which was polished and carved, and imbedded in a firm mortar. Such was also the character of the edifices of the Quiches and Cakchiquels of Guatemala. In view of the fact that none of these masons knew the plumb-line or the square, the accuracy of the adjustments is remarkable. Their efforts at sculpture were equally bold.

lost-civilizations.net


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