Featuring worldwide places known for their art, sculptures, monuments, landmarks, travel articles

Posts Tagged ‘Mayan culture’

The Mayan Ruins – Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras

Posted in Modern & Historical Art, Sculptures & Monuments  by admin on October 27th, 2008

The Mayan knowledge of astronomies is unrivalled by any other culture and the traditional calendars till not many years back were brilliant pieces of astronomy. Their enduring ability show through all the ruins in Central America, cities that declined long before Columbus. The traditions and values, however, live through the art and architecture of the modern Maya.

The ancient Mayan world was situated round the Yucatan Peninsula stretching to the rainforests of Mexico in the east and to the west to Belize and all the way up the highlands of Guatemala. The Mayan world also touched the eastern edges of Honduras and El Salvador. With the changes over hundreds of years, today’s Mayan people are numbered at four to six million and speak around 30 different languages divided into different ethnic groups!

Not only the architecture and astronomy, the world today is also deriving a lot of knowledge and medicines from the Mayan herbal medicines. The social organization of the villages has also remained the same through centuries and so has the various cultivation methods like the slash and burn method. Thatched roof houses and people who still grow corn, squash, beans and tomatoes takes you back into history amalgamating the modern and the historical into a journey of discoveries.

Similar to the other factors Mayan root that show through their present day lives, perhaps the most obvious is the religious and spiritual connect. Like every other civilization, spiritual connotations in the buildings and temple complexes have endured. Most of the Mayan cities were sites of ceremonies rather than trade or commerce. For the decentralized network of farmers, these cities were the focal point of spiritual and magical healing and prowess! The weaves to date show the carvings of the sacred symbols on the walls and stones. Each symbol has meaning and the modern Mayan still makes offerings to the same deities.

Palenque, one of the most beautiful and breathtaking Mayan ruins is situated in the Palenque National park in Chiapas. Situated at the base of a hill, the city could be seen for days from the coast and Mayans walking back home could know their direction of travel. Many decorative motifs are one of a kind and even show Chinese influences. The temple of inscriptions is an interesting pyramid which houses the crypt of a powerful priest called Pa Kal discovered in 1952. Untouched for almost a millennium, many objects from the crypt have been taken to various museums for studying them and display. The subterranean passages and the fine structure and carvings are admired by visitors to this powerful ruin everyday.

Dating back to 642, the temple of suns has the best restored roof combs of all Mayan ruins. These were false fronts beautifully carved and decorated and prevalent in all Mayan buildings. Colorfully painted, these roof combs were a symbol of grandeur and still inspire the contemporary art and architectural forms. The Temple of the Jaguar shows a lot of similarities to Cambodian and even Hindu art with the Foliated cross motif and the bas-relief motifs.

The Mayan ruins are spread across such a large area that one cannot write or read them at one go. When visiting you are bound to feel the power, grandeur and mystique through the temples and cities.

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Chichen Itza – One of the Great Wonders of the World

Posted in Sculptures & Monuments  by admin on September 28th, 2008

One of the great monuments of the world, which just recently was declared a monument of world heritage, is Chichen Itza. This is one of the largest pre-Columbian archaeological sites built by the Mayans. The ancient Mayan ruins of this city are quite large and expand over a four mile area. These are some of the most awe inspiring archaeological places you can ever visit.

No one really knows when this great Mayan city was built, but we do know that their golden period was about 600A.D. Chichen Itza is a Mayan word which means “At the mouth of the well of the Itza,” which is a very logical name because this area of Yucatan is arid and there is no above ground water. The city was founded next to two cenotes, or large natural sink holes, created by earlier volcanic movement. These cenotes were large enough to provide enough water throughout the year for the city.

In the early 1900’s, diving excursion began in the cenotes and many important gold, jade and silver artifacts were found among the many bones from cadavers. This indicates that sacrifices were made to the god of rain, in thanks for the ample supply of water. During the height of the Mayan rule Chichen Itza was a major force in both political and economical power. This city learned to trade by sea, which is why they were able to obtain resources from distant places like central Mexico and Central America.

Although we know when the city reigned as one of the greatest powers of the Mayan culture, we are not sure why the city died out so suddenly. Evidence collected when the ruins were discovered indicate that many buildings were burned and much destruction, which indicates a possible conquering by another tribe. Some experts believe there is evidence of the Toltec King Quetzalcoatl’s arrival from central Mexico.One of the most interesting things about this city is the fact that the temples are designed with such exact science. The seven temples are designed in such a way as to represent time, they represent the seasons and days of the years.
The temples are amazing works of art and each has its own special uniqueness. When you enter the site, the first temple you will see is the “Piramide de Kukulcan” which has 365 steps (the days of the year), 52 different panels and 18 terraces. During the spring and fall equinox you will see that as the sun touches the steps on the northern side, the shadow of a moving serpent will appear.

The other temples are just as fabulous with amazing stone carvings, and murals of life, and conquering battles of the society. Much of this magnificent culture is still a mystery, but anyone who visits the site comes away with a feeling of greatness and awe for a strong, intelligent, and mysterious nation, which disappeared without reason.

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