Art and Myth of the Ancient Maya

Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos, assistant professor of anthropology

(Yale University Press)

This book explores Maya mythology through the lens of art, text, and culture. It offers a reexamination of the mid-16th-century “Popol Vuh,” long considered an authoritative text, which is better understood as one among many crucial sources for the interpretation of ancient Maya art and myth. Using materials gathered across Mesoamerica, Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos bridges the gap between written texts and artistic representations, identifying key mythical subjects and uncovering their variations in narratives and visual depictions. Central characters — including a secluded young goddess, a malevolent grandmother, a dead father, and the young gods who became the sun and the moon — are identified in pottery, sculpture, mural painting, and hieroglyphic inscriptions. Highlighting such previously overlooked topics as sexuality and generational struggles, this illustrated book paves the way for a new understanding of Maya myths and their lavish expression in ancient art.

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