'Los Mayas' Reveals the Art of a 'Lost Civilization' ; Mexicans Flock to a Massive Exhibition That Showcases the Complex

By Howard LaFranchi, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, October 29, 1999 | Go to article overview

'Los Mayas' Reveals the Art of a 'Lost Civilization' ; Mexicans Flock to a Massive Exhibition That Showcases the Complex


Howard LaFranchi, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


When Hernn Corts landed in Mexico in 1519, he did not find the land of silver and gold, the "El Dorado," for which he thirsted. What Corts and the other Spanish conquistadors did encounter were astounding Indian civilizations, among which figured the Mayan. The Mayas have been called the Greeks of the New World.

But the Spanish were less interested in the languages, writings, mathematics, astronomy, architecture, and arts of the Mayas than in turning them from their "satanic" ways and converting them to Christianity. Within 50 years of the conquest, the Mayan civilization, already in decline in some areas, was all but destroyed - its statues and temples smashed, its written records burned, its governors killed, and its people enslaved.

Like the movie star or political leader of our day who dies young and becomes a legend, the Mayan civilization is all the more captivating to us because of its tragic fall. Now some of the awe- inspiring achievements of a people long considered little more than subhuman idolaters by those who vanquished them are on display in an ambitious exposition in Mexico City.

The show, entitled simply "Los Mayas," exhibits more than 500 pieces from 40 museums in Mesoamerica - much of southeastern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and parts of Honduras and El Salvador where the Mayas lived. It is another reminder that it is more difficult to build a civilization than to tear one down.

"The exposition demonstrates that the Mayas achieved not only great technical heights, but an astonishing aesthetic sense that permeated their art," says Mercedes de la Garza, director of Mexico City's National Anthropological Museum and the show's curator. "Mayan artists displayed many different styles," reflecting the Mayas' political organization into independent states, she says, and "suggesting a great artistic freedom."

But in the end, the Mayas' art, whether tall steles (inscribed stones) featuring plumed governors or short clay statues depicting nobles or ballplayers, came down to religion. Mayan cities were meticulously laid out with the cosmos in mind; the exhibition's entertaining funerary statues (with their big hats, oversized jewelry, and exaggerated poses) were buried with the deceased in a tomb. That every piece of their art had its place in cementing the Mayas' relation to their gods - and the sacred powers of the Mayan rulers - explains why the Mayas' conquerors wanted it destroyed.

One might wonder why mount a show now on the Mayas in Mexico, where much of the world's remaining Mayan art and architecture is already found? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

'Los Mayas' Reveals the Art of a 'Lost Civilization' ; Mexicans Flock to a Massive Exhibition That Showcases the Complex
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.