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Maya Art of Today

13 december 2012
6 min. de lectura

As anyone who has visited Yucatán can tell you, the Mayan culture is alive and thriving in parts of Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. This culture is very diverse and this is obvious in the art produced by the Mayans today. Mayan art can be found in textiles, hammocks, masks, clothing, sculptures, and paintings. It is very easy to find a piece of Mayan art on a blouse, a bracelet, or a belt, handmade in Chiapas. The women from Chiapas who sell these things in the Plaza Grande in Mérida, or in Playa del Carmen, also have bags embroidered or made of huipils, at very reasonable prices. Hammocks can be found throughout the Yucatan, although those that show great skill are more difficult to find.

Larger objects, such as masks, sculptures, and paintings, do not come to Yucatán with street vendors, but can be found in some shops in Yucatán or occasionally in a chance encounter. Sculptures and masks, almost without exception, are created as part of traditional ceremonies performed by the Mayans throughout the year to honor their saints and ancestors. Sculptures are made as objects of worship, and almost every Mayan house has a corner reserved for an altar. Masks are made for special occasions. They have been used for ceremonies and dances for many years, and are physical manifestations of the fascinating history and legends that are still part of Mayan life. You can find masks made specifically to sell. But masks made for dances, and then sold, are considered much more valuable.

Painting is an art that is only performed in a few towns in the Mayan world. The most famous Mayan painters are from the Tzutujil tribe, and most live in Chiapas or Guatemala. The Tzutujil are one of the smallest tribes, and have preserved many of their pre-Colombian traditions. Traditional crafts have always been a source of income for them, which in their case includes painting.

Works by well-known artists in this area, such as Pedro Rafael Gonzalez Chavajay and Mariano Gonzalez Chavajay, are difficult to find and have more value every day. Some of the newer paints are very good and their prices are even more reasonable.

Contemporary Mayan painting, known as naïve art, began in 1920 with Juan Sisay of Santiago Atitlan and Rafael Gonzales y Gonzales of San Pedro la Laguna, inspired by travelers who came to paint in their town.

The paintings of these artists and their descendants reflect their daily lives, including ceremonies, dances, processions, and healing activities, and also working in the cornfields and selling in the markets.

When you visit Yucatán, you can find textiles, masks, sculptures, and other objects from the Mayan world and other parts of Mexico at Hecho a Mano in Izamal (Calle 31 #323 x 36 y 34, Tel. (999) 926 0002. Hours: Monday to Saturday 10 am to 2 pm, 4 pm to 7 pm). For antique textiles, old and new masks, and an excellent selection of Mayan painting, visit Mayan Arts Gallery in Playa del Carmen. And if you're interested in purchasing works by one of Mérida's most beloved artists, visit Georgia Charuhas' website. www.georgiacharuhas.com

Yucatán Today

Author: Yucatán Today

Yucatán Today, the traveler's companion, has been covering Yucatán’s destinations, culture, gastronomy, and things to do for 36 years. Available in English and Spanish, it’s been featured in countless travel guides due to the quality of its content.

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