The art of Maya
The Art of Maya as art of any other civilization is a reflection of their lifestyle and culture
The ancient Maya appreciated beauty, story telling and drama. Scientists can tell this be examining their sculpture, ceramics, mosaics, painting, weaving, and clothing and costume design.
Jade was valued more than gold (perhaps because there was little within the Maya region). They carved jade into figures and jewelry and also used jade to make masks. And they did this without metal tools.
Their terra cotta figurines and polychrome vases are admired not only because they are very old, but as fine works of art. This vase is from Campeche from about 1,400 years ago.
The noble people kept jewelry makers busy making necklaces, bracelets, breastplates, ear flares, labrets, and nose plugs. The best jewelry was buried in the elaborate tombs of their rulers.
Maya Pottery: Maya pottery has given us quite a look at their daily life. The Mayas made little pottery figures. These figures were probably used in religious ceremonies. Many were made to rattle or whistle.
Although very small, figures were detailed and brightly painted. Each offers a look at Maya life. Some of the figures include a bearded man on a throne, a person in a wide hat, a ballplayer wearing heavily padded clothing, and a musician shaking a rattle.
Not all of the art the Maya created is pleasant. Archaeologists found one site that had 50 carved monuments. Some of the carvings show scenes of horrible killings. Others have carvings of demons and scary creatures. Still others have pictures of bird gods.
Dance: The Maya loved dance. Some scholars believe the Maya might have known a thousand different dances. Their dances included the Monkey, the Grandfather, the Shadow of the Trees, and the Centipede. Dance costumes were colorful, and headdresses were huge!
Today, hundreds of these dances are still performed in Central America.
Music: The Indian civilizations of South and Central America have a rich musical culture. Flutes, including panpipes and whistles were most important. Many examples are in museums around the world. Rattles, scraper and drums were also used.
There is no evidence of stringed instruments at all! A whistle flute, sometimes called a fipple flute is a flute blown from the end.
Air is sent through a simple mouthpiece against the sharp edge of a hole cut in the pipe below the mouthpiece. It can be made of clay, wood cane. Finger holes make more than one pitch possible.
Kate Meshakova, 9-a(2011)
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