This is a watercolor I did some years ago.
This is a watercolor I did some years ago.
This stela was purchased by the de Young museum in San Francisco in 1999. According to the museum, the stela’s origins are unknown. “It could not be identified by site, epigraphy, or style, and its imagery represented a blend of elements from works found in both Guatemala and Mexico,” said the museum in a statement. “This fact was corroborated by the many key art historians, archaeologists, and epigraphers whom we subsequently contacted.”
The relief appears to depict a standing female ruler. A snake wraps around her body, and out of its head appears the deity K’awil. This is the iconography of the vision serpent. Dates on the sculpture give the dates March 13, 761, and August 10, 760. Both the dates and the style suggest an origin in the southern Maya lowlands.
The town of Esquipulas in Guatemala is famous for its black Christ image, carved of dark balsam wood in the sixteenth century. The church is a famous pilgrimage site, and in 1995 Esquipulas was named “the spiritual center of Central America” by Pope John Paul.
The 1987 Central American peace treaty was called the Esquipulas Peace Agreement.
Narration in the video is in Spanish.
This handsome bird is a motmot, who may be seen in thickets and forrests throughout Mesoamerica. His name comes from the sound he makes (often heard in early morning).
I had always heard that the bird modifies his tail himself, plucking away at the midfeather to leave the barbs at the end. But now I read that the middle feathers are weak and fall off naturally.
The Mayan word for motmot is xukpi.
The NYT has a nice slide show of images related to the Maya vote in Guatemala’s elections, and why Rigoberto Menchu didn’t do better (she was sixth out of 14 candidates, with 3 percent of the vote).
Rudy at La Antigua Daily Photo is inviting comments on the slide show.
The city of Merida in the Yucatan has one of the livelier Carnival celebrations in Mesoamerica. These pictures were taken 19 February, 2007.
A dish for any time of the day. Serves eight.
This recipe is via recetas.aquiguatemala.net.
I’m not a big Pink Floyd fan, but the juxtaposition of their music with a family visit to the Maya site expresses something of how the public views Chichen Itza.
One of the great festivals in Guatemala is Semana Santa in Antigua. On Easter celebrants bear heavy floats depicting images from the passion of Christ; the floats, some requiring dozens of carriers, may weigh thousands of pounds.
Elaborate carpets — alfombras — of pine needles, corn kernels, flowers, and sawdust are created on the cobbled streets. These beautiful artworks will soften the treads of the bearers of the heavy statuary as they make their way across the hard, uneven cobbles. And they will be destroyed by them.
These photos were taken many years ago. The corn in this alfombra detail is interesting. The figure appears to be presenting the corn as a form of offering. The corn seems to emerge from a cooking vessel.
Maize has been the main crop of Mesoamerica since time immemorial. One of the chief deities of the classic Maya was the corn god, who is associated with death and rebirth. He descends to the underworld and reemerges in youthful guise much like a young shoot breaking through the surface of the earth at the beginning of the growing season. So it is natural that he would become associated with Easter, a springtime festival that is also associated with death and rebirth.
This orchid, called the Monja Blanca in Spanish, or White Nun, was proclaimed the national flower of Guatemala in 1934 by the dictator Ubico. (Another version of the Latin name is Lycaste virginalis var. alba.)
This rare orchid is found in Alta Verapaz, in the northwest of the country. It is fragrant and showy, but difficult to grow; commercial use is prohibited in Guatemala. It is said to symbolize peace, beauty, and art.
Image from Heckeroth Orchids.
Ilan Stavans reviews Francisco Goldman’s The Art of Political Murder in the Los Angeles Times. The book is a look at the 1998 murder of bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera, vicar-general of Guatemala City. Goldman’s book apparently imlpicates current presidential candidate Otto Pérez Molina in the murder. Stavans criticizes the book (which I have not yet read) as lacking focus and style; in Publishers Weekly, on the other hand, Trent Olson says that “Goldman manages a clear narrative,” asserting that “his journalism isn’t so much a departure from his fiction as an extension of his concerns with the fraught landscapes where ‘truth’ is as contested as the soil underfoot, yet central to battles waged over it.”
(image links to book page at amazon)
To no one’s surprise, no presidential candidate in the Guatemala elections received a majority of the vote. Early reports show Colon at 36 percent and Perez at 29 percent. Menchu received less than 3 percent.
The second-round election will take place in November. According to Prensa Libre, Perez would win a runoff election against Colom with 52.6 percent of the vote.
Polls are currently showing a close race with Colom holding a tenuous lead.
Perez Molina was the head of military intelligence during Guatemala’s horrible civil war. Colom is a businessman and economist. Rigoberto Menchu does not appear to have mobilized a lot of support.
This 45-minute video, shot entirely in Belize, presents an overview of the history of Garifuna people of the Central American Caribbean coast, as told in their own voices. (Around 18 mins. are some historical photos.) The Garifuna are an ethnic mix of Carib, Arawak, and African peoples. To the outsider, Garifuna drumming is the most immediately striking and characteristic aspect of the culture. There are some examples around the 15 minute mark in the video. Around 21-22 mins. is a taste of punta, the contemporary expression of traditional Garifuna rhythms. There is a female chorus around 39 mins.
I am still looking for the perfect Garifuna drumming video — there is a lot of touristy stuff, much of it shot in restaurants or at staged performances, on the web, but the authentic experience seems elusive.
The image above is a detail from a photo by Ivan Castro. Mr. Castro’s Guatemala photo set on flickr offers an excellent selection of images. He is adept at subject, composition, tonal range, and color. This is a great introduction to beauty of Guatemala.
Below are clickable thumbnails from his Antigua, Guatemala photoset (just one of those available), via the crossroads plugin.
This image is from the websites of the municipalities of San Luis, Poptun, and Dolores in the Peten. Despite killings and intimation, Rigoberto Menchu continues her campaign for the presidency.
Poptun has a population of about 30,000 people. It is the base for Guatemala’s counter-insurgency jungle warfare special operations military elite, the Kaibiles. The name is derived from Kayb’il B’alam (Kaibil Balam), a Maya leader who led opposition to the forces of the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado and successfully evaded capture. During the civil war the Kaibiles were implicated in the massacre of civilians.
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