buried mirror: latest reflections

mesoamerica and the maya world

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Happy Haab 5125

chajchaay, a maya ball game

Yesterday, Sunday Feb. 22, marked the first day of the Maya year 5125, according to the Maya solar calendar, or haab. The haab is also known as the “vague year,” because it did not adjust for the extra quarter day in the solar year. The Maya were, however, perfectly aware of the discrepancy, which they had calculated more precisely than was the case in Europe’s Julian calendar. Because they had several calendar systems it was not important to them that the haab include such an adjustment.

According to Prensa Latina, over the past couple of decades traditional Maya calendrical celebrations, which had been forced underground by centuries of repression, have become less secretive. The photo (by AFP via Straits Times (of all places, shows  men playing chajchaay, which is described in the caption as “an ancient Maya ball game,” in Guatemala City. It is questionable whether this game has any connection to those played on the ball courts of the classic Maya. Below is one of several YouTube videos showing the game.

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Friday roundup

Incidents of travel in virtual Mesoamerica

Landslide death toll rises

The number of dead from a landslide near Aquil Grande in Alta Verapaz in Guatemala has risen to 37; that number does not count an equal number of missing persons. A previous slide had hit the same road on December 14, killing two people, and barricades were put up to keep people away from the danger area. Many of the dead in the second slide were coffee plantations workers who simply went around the roadblocks.

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Photo Wednesday: Furniture delivery

antigua, guatemala, street scene

This photo of a furniture deliveryman on the streets of Antigua, Guatemala, comes from Michael R. Swigart’s photostream.

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Maya playing cards

Not cards of the ancient or even modern Maya, but playing cards produced by — of all people — the Soviet state. Among the few sets of cards it produced (the state was the sole supplier of playing cards) was this handsome set.

maya playing card from soviet era

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More examples at English Russia.

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Friday roundup

Virtual travels in Mesoamerica

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Maya multiplication

I don’t know anything about this. Is it really Maya?

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Viene el dia de los muertos

tom and friend at day of the dead

With Day of the Dead around the corner, Rafael Jesús González’s blog is well worth visiting. He traces the celebration from its ancient roots through the colonial period and into the present.

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Above: Me (right) and a friend, at the 2006 Dia de los Muertos celebration at the Oakland Museum. Tee shirt image by José Guadalupe Posada, photo by Anne Christensen.

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Turtles at Monterrico

While we’re on the subject of sea turtles, here’s a photo of baby turtles at Monterrico, on Guatemala’s Pacific coast, from guillermogg’s photostream.

baby sea turtles at monterrico on guatemala's pacific coast

By the way, this image is a good example of my technique for correcting color cast. I think it’s fair to say the original was a little blue:

sea turtles at monterrico on guatemala's pacific coast: unedited image

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Sea turtle project at La Barrona Hatchery, Guatemala

A behind the scenes look at volunteer-driven sea turtle conservation at the La Barrona in Guatemala.

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Sea turtles at Monterrico, Guatemala

Following up on my previous post about Monterrico, here’s a good video survey of the area.

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Black sand beach, Monterrico, Guatemala

black sand beach at monterrico, guatemala

Guatemala’s Pacific coast has some fine black sand beaches, such as this one at Monterrico. The area is not very developed for tourism, which has its advantages as well as some disadvantages. Get there by going to La Avellana and then taking a half-hour boat ride through the mangroves to the beach.

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Shown: detail of a photo from Walter Rodriguez’s photostream.

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Photo Wednesday: Maximon

Maximon: A Maya Folk Deity

This image of Maximon comes from cito’s photostream

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Wilfredo Lam and Carlos Luna

Wilfredo Lam painting

Wilfredo Lam (1902-19982) was an influential modernist Cuban painter. Among those who acknowledge his influence is the contemporary painter Carlos Luna. While Luna was born in Cuba, his work “deals in part with the duality of Cuban and Mexican heritage,” according to the Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA) in Long Beach, where a show of the artists’ work is being presented through the end of August. Luna’s work, like Lam’s, is rich in historical and cultural symbolism.

carlos luna, gran mambo

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Above: Wifredo Lam, Untitled, ca. 1947, oil on canvas 49 x 59 ¼ in.
Below: Carlos Luna, El Gran Mambo, 2006, oil on canvas, 144 x 192 in.

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Is that Maximon playing the marimba?

, along with some recollections of Maximon.

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Life has imputantly interfered with Buried Mirror’s posting schedule this summer. In upcoming days I will be backfilling and trying to get back into the flow.

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Photo Wednesday: painted bowls

painted bowls at chichen itza

This image of painted bowls at Chichen Itza comes from saguayo’s photostream.

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Mexico’s best natural attractions

According to the LA Times, that is. It lists six of them:

  • Michoacán’s Million Monarch March:
  • Whale-Watching
  • Sea-Turtle Nesting Beaches
  • Lago Bacalar
  • Copper Canyon
  • Desert Landscapes in Baja Sur

What do you think of this list?

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Friday Roundup

Incidents of virtual travel in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and greater Mesoamerica

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Photo Wednesday: Agua Volcano, Antigua, Guatemala

agua volcano, antigua, guatemala

This view of Agua Volcano from somewhere near the Parqueo Central in Antigua, Guatemala, is from hexod.us’ photostream.

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Tropical storm Arthur batters Belize

It almost seems that half of Central and North America has been flooded lately. Southern Belize was particularly hard hit by tropical storm Arthur.

Friday Roundup

Incidents of virtual travel . . .

Volver volver

I’m back after a little medical absence.

Back soon

Buried Mirror is on medical leave and will be back soon.

Photo Wednesday: motmots

turquoise-browed motmots

This image of turquoise-browed motmots comes from jvverde’s photostream.

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Friday Roundup

What’s new in virtual Mesoamerica

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Photo Wednesday: Painted table top

painted table top from Guanajuato, México

This photo of a table top painted with images of colorful fruit, taken in a crafts shop in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Mexico, is from Lucy Nieto’s photostream.

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Friday Roundup

Juan Soriano at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

juan soriano, the dead girl (1938)

Juan Soriano (1920-2006) was born in Guadalajara, son of veterans of the Mexican revolution. Something of a prodigy, he developed his distinctive style after moving to Mexico City when he was fifteen.

According to the exhibition label for this painting (The Dead Girl, 1938, oil on panel, 18 1/2 x 31 1/2 inches (47 x 80 cm), Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Clifford, 1947, 1947-29-3),

Soriano painted this 1938 work shortly after seeing a Veracruz household whose front window displayed a dead child dressed like an angel, notifying the neighbors of the baby’s passing. Postmortem images of children were common in Mexican painting (and, later, photography) beginning in the colonial era. While this tradition originally developed in Renaissance Europe, it had a particular importance in Latin America. Mexican modernists Frida Kahlo, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Julio Castellanos also created famous examples of this theme.

John Everett Millais’ Ophelia (1852) makes an interesting contrast. Both figures are surrounded by flowers, but the flowers in Soriano’s picture only point up the starkness of the figure by their contrast; Millais’ Ophelia seems to be drifting into a flowery world — she holds flowers in her hand and even her dress echoes floral patterns. Millais’ Ophelia holds her hands open to her fate; Soriano’s girl clinches her hands together. In her madness Ophelia stares vacantly skyward; the eyes of Soriano’s girl are pressed tightly shut. The difference reflect the styles of the moment, but they also suggest something of the artists’ temperaments. Soriano’s world is one in which the very edges of the canvas seem to press in on the image with a suffocating force.

millais, ophelia, 1852

Fragile Demon: Juan Soriano in Mexico, 1935-1950 collects 16 early works by the artist. It runs through Sunday.

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Photo Wednesday

campeche chiles

Today’s photo, of chiles in a market in Campeche, comes from malias’ photostream.

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Mexico and the modern print

mexico y la estampa moderna

Mexico City’s Museo Nacional de Arte is offering what looks like a strong show of Mexican printmaking from 1920-1950. The full title is México y la Estampa Moderna, 1920-1950: Una Revolución en las Artes Gráficas. Included are works by Diego Rivera, Clemente Orozco, Leopoldo Méndez, and many less familiar artists. Click the image above for a video preview on the museum’s website. The exhibition runs through June 8.

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via Jim Johnston

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