The Mayan civilization is credited with the building of truly awe-inspiring temples, pyramids and cities. They are known to have developed and thrived within a complex social and political order. Many of the remnants reveal that the Mayan excelled in many different fields, and the modern world is still unearthing testaments of their achievements. Today their descendants account for more than 50% of the population of Guatemala. Their culture is still vibrant and thriving. Traditionally dressed women and children in the entire country are a great show of their association with pride.
Features of the civilization
The civilization is synonymous with the art of weaving. The art has survived uninterrupted for centuries and is now gaining recognition all over the world. The Mayans are also known for unique baskets, pottery and wood carvings of animals, figurines and toys. The Chichicastenango traditional handicrafts market every Thursday and Sunday is a typical Mayan market and a celebration of the civilization. The Hemispheric Indigenous Education Conference brought together various aspects of indigenous communities of America for further study and facilitated dedicated exchange of experiences, and educational material relevant to the development of intercultural education.
This civilization is noted for the only fully developed written language of the Americas and art and architecture. The civilization is also credited with sophisticated mathematical and astronomical systems. At its peak, this civilization was the most densely populated and culturally dynamic societies in the whole world! It shared a high degree of interaction with the other Mesoamerican cultures and this led to a cultural diffusion. Their influence reached as far as central Mexico, a good 625 miles away from the main region. There are a number of outside influences also found within the culture, which resulted from trade and cultural exchange.
Today, the descendants still account for sizable populations and maintain a distinctive set of traditions and beliefs. Mayan art is sophisticated and beautiful and the carvings are exquisite, showing a grace and accurate observation of the human. The art that survived include funerary pottery, ceramic work and murals that survived by serendipity. The Maya blue, a beautiful turquoise blue color has survived through the centuries. However, in time the technique was lost. Some of the unearthed murals are by far the finest in style and iconography.
Mayan architecture spans many thousands of years. The most dramatic and easily recognizable styles are the stepped pyramids. There are also cave sites like the Jolja, Naj Tunich, Candelaria and Witch that speak volumes about their architecture. Every fifty-two years, temples and pyramids were remodeled and rebuilt, probably by a new ruler. The North Acropolis at Tikal is determined to be the sum total of 1,500 years of architectural modifications! Through observation of the stylistic distinctions, remnants of the architecture enable us to understand the evolution of their ancient civilization.
The Remnants of Study
Their architecture integrated a great degree of natural features, dictated by the topography of each independent location. While some cities were designed on flat plains of the northern Yucatán, others were built in the hills and utilized the natural loft of the topography to raise towers and temples. Their urban designs were distinct with the division of space between monuments and causeways. There were public plazas and distinct interior spaces that were entirely secondary. Later, the cities developed into more fortress-like defensive structures. Depending on the location of natural resources, the cities grew by using causeways, to connect the plazas with buildings.
Contemporary Mayans practice many of these traditional forms of agriculture and their illustrated accounts of the ruins have once again helped them regain their position as a vital link in Mesoamerican heritage.