buried mirror: latest reflections

mesoamerica and the maya world

Month: August 2016

Mexico returns to its roots

Over at Frisco Vista I recently posted about my new bitters, called Old Tom’s Maximon Mole Bitters. They will definitely spice up a cocktail. So what better time to have another listen to Lila Downs’s great “Cumbia del Mole”?

Actually, I had planned to insert a video by Natalia Lafourcade, but I didn’t find one I liked enough. The impulse derived from this article in the New York Times, which says that Mexico is experiencing a new back-to-roots movement. (I think Ms. Downs was already there). The article begins:

When the pop singer Natalia Lafourcade stepped onto the stage of National Auditorium here last fall, it was a high point of a career that began more than 10 years ago, when she performed in grunge-inspired attire.

But for this concert, Ms. Lafourcade eschewed the ripped jeans. Instead, she wore pants from a Mexican designer and a crown of red roses, paying homage to the artist Frida Kahlo. Halfway through the show, she was joined by a band playing jarocho, a style of folk music from Veracruz.

“It was time to connect back with my origins,” said Ms. Lafourcade, 32. “I wanted to infuse my music with Mexican character.”

In a country that is struggling with pressing social, economic and political challenges yet possesses a rich cultural heritage, many emerging artists and trendsetters no longer feel compelled to look abroad for inspiration.

 

Travel in Mesoamerica and the Maya World

Lunch with Carol at Puerto Morelos

Lunch with Carol at Puerto Morelos.

This post will be sticky in the “travel” category. To start with, here are some links that might be helpful. For now, many of these utilize the old Buried Mirror html, which is less responsive for mobile than the current look. Some are blog posts that may also appear below. These issues will get addressed.

Travel in the Maya World

Overview of Mesoamerica and the Maya Region

Maya Sites

Chichen Itzen

The Observatory

Kabah

The arch of the sacbe
The western group

Uxmal

The House of the Turtles
The Great Pyramid
Borges at Uxmal

Copan

Map of Copan
The East Court
Stela B

Tulum

and Hurricane Dean

Some Places

Felipe Carrillo Puerto
Hot Waterfall
Casita in Mixco, Guatemala
Antigua Walls
Volcanos of Lake Atitlan
Maximon
Photography by Ivan Castro
The Talking Cross
Puerto Morelos,
on the Maya Riviera

Shopping

Four Keys to Haggling

Restaurants and Cafes

Antigua Guatemala, Bagel Barn

History of Mesoamerica and the Maya World

Ancient handprint at the ruins of Kabah

Ancient handprint at the ruins of Kabah.

This post will be sticky in the “history” category. To start with, here are some links that might be helpful. For now, many of these utilize the old Buried Mirror html, which is less responsive for mobile than the current look. Some are blog posts that may also appear below. These issues will get addressed.

The image is a photo I took in February 2007 of a red handprint on the interior of the arch at the Maya ruins of Kabah in the Puuc region of the Yucatan. Most Maya structures were brightly painted, and this handprint was left in red paint. The handprint was originally obscured by a stucco surface, which has peeled away. Similar handprints in blue paint can be seen at Uxmal, about 20 kilometers northeast. (See more below.)

Maya History

Maya Timeline
Proto-Mayan and the Origins of the Maya
About Yik’in Chan K’awiil, 27th ruler of Tikal
The Great Collapse: The Decline and Fall of Ancient Maya Civilization
The Cult of the Talking Cross, and the Caste War of the Yucatan
Old School Mayanists:
Sylvanus G. Morley and J. Eric S. Thompson

Recent Discoveries

Ancient Tomb Discovered at Copan (May 17, 2007)
Ancient Offerings found at Nueva de Toluca (May 25, 2007)

Modern History

Revolution in Guatemala, 1944

Popularization

Gibson Girl

Culture of Mesoamerica and the Maya World

Festival, Chichicastenango, Guatemala, 1975

Festival, Chichicastenango, Guatemala, 1975.

This post will be sticky in the “culture” category. To start with, here are some links that might be helpful. For now, many of these utilize the old Buried Mirror html, which is less responsive for mobile than the current look. Some are blog posts that may also appear below. These issues will get addressed.

Mayan Languages and Cultures

The Mesoamerican context
New system of orthography
Classification of Mayan languages and cultures
More on Mayan languages, Proto-Mayan, and the origins of the Maya
The Garifuna Journey

Maya Cosmology and Belief

Principal gods
Maya Calendar(s)
Maya numeric notation
Maximon, an auspicioius folk deity
Yaxche, the Maya Tree of Life

Daily Life

Manioc

Maya Art and Architecture

The Maya and the Golden Section
The Fountain at La Merced, La Antigua, Guatemala
Door knockers at La Antigua, Guatemala

Maya Symbology

Parrot
Turtle

The Contemporary Maya World

Penguins in Bed
Zacatenango

Festivals and Celebrations

Palos Voladores
Kites at Santiago Sacatepequez

Politics

The Art of Political Murder
Rigoberto Menchu in Poptun

Ometochtli

Mesoamerican animal husbandry

Illustration of stone rabbit sculpture from the Oztoyahualco 15B apartment compound. (Manzanilla ed.1993; drawing by Fernando Botas). http://bit.ly/2bEl0bZ . Via http://bit.ly/2bDOKEN

Illustration of stone rabbit sculpture from the Oztoyahualco 15B apartment compound.
(Manzanilla ed.1993; drawing by Fernando Botas). http://bit.ly/2bEl0bZ. Via http://bit.ly/2bDOKEN.

A team of researchers led by Andrew Somerville of the University of California San Diego, as reported by Cynthia Graber in Scientific American, have produced new evidence that ancient Mesoamericans raised animals for food. Traditionally it was felt that they did not engage in such acitivites, evidentally because researchers were looking for large food animals such as the cattle and pigs introduced by Westerners.

Archaeologists had already noted ample rabbit remains at Teotihuacan, near modern Mexico City. The current research team, however, noted a few curious things:

  • Carbon isotope analysis provides evidence of the rabbit’s corn and cactus fruit diet, which is different from that of wild rabbits and suggests that they were raised domestically.
  • Ruins of what appears to be a dedicated rabbit pen have been discovered.
  • A rabbit statue was found at the site of the pen.

According to Mexconnect, domesticated rabbits are still a common feature of central Mexican cuisine:

The rabbit, still hunted but more often raised domestically, is popular in Central Mexico, where it is most often eaten adobado – marinated in a chile and spice rub – or estofado – stewed. The latter is a more suitable way of cooking larger rabbit, from three-and-a-half to four pounds. Smaller ones generally run from one-and-a-half to two pounds and can be prepared using shorter cooking methods such as frying or grilling. In either case, even domestically raised rabbit benefits a great deal from being marinated first.

Buen provecho!

Child labor in Guatemala

Young worker in market in Antigua, Guatemala. Photo copyright Rudy Giron, all rights reserved.

Young worker in market in Antigua, Guatemala. Photo copyright Rudy Giron, all rights reserved.

It’s been four years since I’ve posted on this site. During those years I was focused on print projects (I published three books), but now I am renewing my web activities. When I thought of reviving this site, the first place I looked was Rudy Giron’s blog, Antigua Daily Photo, which is the source of this photo. I wanted to begin with Rudy, because he is a knowledgable resident of Antigua and an indefatigable blogger, as well as a talented photographer. Rudy’s blog now says that unauthorized use of his material is prohibited except for links and excerpts, so I am requesting permission. Please do not use his materials without authorization.

One of the most troubling features of Guatemala and the Maya world in general is that it is so damned photogenic even when the situations the photography documents are problematic. I’ve seen this so many times. Here we have a beautiful photo of a young girl in a market, and the picturesque quality, if we’re not careful, can blind us to the harsh realities of child labor.

Rudy writes on his blog, “It breaks my heart to see SO MANY children working instead of being in school like they should if the laws were enforced in Guatemala.” He is quite right, and I urge you to visit his blog to learn more about Antigua, Guatemala, from an insider’s perspective.

 

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