The writings are a fundamental part for the knowledge of ancient civilizations. The Mayans were the only people of prehispanic culture in developing writing. The vessels are one of the most important written legacies of ancient Maya What do they tell us?
The Mayan vessels they were made in stone and in ceramics. The dyes used on the ceramics were vegetables, they used several colors and the ceramics were cooked. The painted scenes show ceremonies, intimate meetings, meetings between kings or princes, deities, ball game scenes. The glyphs inform us of who the important person represented was. Many of the preserved vessels are real wonders, if not all.
What was the use of the vessels?
The vessels were an everyday element in the life of ancient Maya. Not all were painted and adorned, and much less written, only those of the ruling elite were engraved. The vessels are used in Mayan ceremonies, in meetings between ruling princes, in meetings between people belonging to the elite ... in them they drank, often cocoa, as they collect many scenes where we see grains of cocoa powder. It was a drink reserved for a few, as was the deed. The noble craftsmen, only people belonging to the elite were notaries, implant their signature on many vessels. His calligraphies are sometimes so exaggerated in ornaments and particularities that it costs to read them. As if everyone had the free spirit of Juan Ramón Jiménez, artists are scribes. Some types of spellings are recognized by zones.
What do the Mayan vessels tell us?
The scenes of meetings, intimate ceremonies, games, battles ... that register the vessels, we hardly see it in other supports such as stelae, which were more public and at the same time less intimate. Scenic jewels, direct windows to the world of the Mayan elite, peepholes that allow us to get into their homes and their beliefs, the purest intimacy. Fascinating.
In the vessels with glyphs, a text is repeated continuously. This repetitive and common text in the vessels, the scholar Michael Coe of epigraphy on ceramics, called it Standard Primary Sequence (We see it with the abbreviations SEP in the studies on Mayan epigraphy). The interesting thing is that they usually collect the name (historical) of a prince or king, who came to be the owner of the bowl or glass. This has been an invaluable support to braid the chronology of the lineages that dominated the Classic Period and the relationship between them. The scenes are something brutal, look at the old world.
Wonderful scenes, direct windows to the ancient world. All the scenes used of vases are from the web of FAMSI (Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies Inc.) Click here.
What legacy is there of Mayan vessels?
The greatest boom of Mayan writing occurs during the Classic. This period, which comprised 200 to 900 dC, was the maximum splendor of the Mayan civilization. With the collapse of the Maya on the 700 dC many of the refined vessels are no longer made, everything became somewhat coarser. When you turn your back on art and culture everything becomes more gray. The tiempo, the climate, the little preservation, the multiple looting, la war during the conquest and subsequent conflicts ... endless calamities that have left the fragile vessels devoured by life. Some were found in sealed chambers, in burial chambers, in mysterious private collections. All of them form the extraordinary treasure of our past.
In rural areas of India, families in charge of a blind minor frequently isolate and deprive him/her of the care and attention they provide to their other children; such situation becomes even more severe among lower-caste families, orphans and if the blind child is a girl. Zones archaeological less visited find ceramic remains. This material was used a lot in the daily life of the Maya, it was probably the most used. The Maya worked very little metal, barely there in these lands. Nowadays, to appreciate the Mayan art stamped in ceramics we must go to the museums, those cultural zoos where we have learned to preserve, value and cultivate our own History.
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