Mayas bellezaThe Museo Regional de Antropología Palacio Cantón (regional anthropology museum), located inside the emblematic French-influence building which was constructed during the henequén era, gets its name from General Francisco Cantón, former governor of Yucatán and original owner of the house. Currently the museum is presenting “Mayas, The Language of Beauty”, one of the most important exhibits ever curated about the Maya culture, made up of pieces that describe the concept of beauty that this ancient civilization cultivated; presented in a contemporary museography and in synch with the iconic building.

The display organized by the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (national institute of anthropolgy and history) comes to Mérida after a successful stay at the National Museum of China, where it was visited by more than 135,000 people; at Palacio Cantón they have enriched the collection with pieces from relevant archaeological sites from the region, which the visitor will be able to enjoy.


The exhibition presents 278 pieces in all, including ceramic, jadeite, shell, and stone objects in different styles, from the five states which make up the Maya region: Yucatán, Campeche, Tabasco, Chiapas, and Quintana Roo. The collection takes us on a tour through various moments in time, from objects created in 100 BC to the year 1200 AD. The exhibit is divided into four sections:


“El cuerpo como lienzo” (the body as canvas): represents the paradigms of beauty manifested through modifications to the body that the ancient Maya practiced, including shaping of the head, scarring, and tooth filing; in these pieces you will see the aesthetic that the maya people projected onto their own bodies, used as canvases and sculpures.


“El cuerpo revestido” (the body dressed): presents clothing as a form of dynamic communication in constant evolution, through which culture, social status, profession, origins, personality, taste, and mood were expressed. Through the figures known as “jainas” (a specific type of figurine), details including appearance, dowry varieties, designs, and other related themes are expressed. You can see the complexity of the tailoring in the garments and their embroidery, brocades, and frayed edges which were used as decorative elements and which reflect a social status, as did the headpieces and other sumptuous objects.


La contraparte animal” (the animal counterpart): exhibits representations of the beings which accompany humans from birth, related to the Maya cosmovision. They are expressions about the fauna and supernatural beings; there are humans with animal attributes and viceversa, and fantastic beings which are the result of the union of two or more beasts.


Los cuerpos de la divinidad” (the bodies of the divine): offers the vision of this culture of its multiple deities and sacred entities. To these gods and superior beings they attributed the origin of the frightening natural phenomena that they were afraid of, and of the material and spritual expression of all that exists.


The exhibition will be in Mérida until February 2016.


The museum hours are Tuesday-Sunday 8 am – 5 pm. Entry 52 pesos. Children under 12, teachers, students, and seniors are free with ID. Sunday free entry for Mexican nationals. Guided tours for schools and groups with appointment.


Paseo de Montejo No. 485 x Calle 43, Centro
Tel. 999 923 0557
e-mail: [email protected] @palaciocanton


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