The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Kimbell Art Museum Presents "Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea"
Panel with a seated ruler in a watery cave (Cancuen Panel 3), 795, Cancuen, Guatemala. Limestone, 22 5/8 x 26 1/4 x 3 in. (57.5 x 66.5 x 7.6 cm). Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes—Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, Guatemala City. Courtesy Peabody Essex Museum, photograph © 2009 Jorge Pérez de Lara.

FORT WORTH, TX.- Rarely does an exhibition offer an entirely fresh way of viewing the art of a great civilization. Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea does exactly that––by revealing and interpreting the importance of water to the ancient Maya. Shark teeth, stingray spines, sea creatures and waterfowl appear in works of stone and clay; supernatural crocodiles breathe forth rain; cosmic battles take place between mythic beasts and deities—all part of a new and vivid picture of the Maya worldview.

Over 90 works, many recently excavated and never before seen in the United States, offer exciting insights into the culture of the ancient Maya, focusing on the sea as a defining feature of the spiritual realm and the inspiration for powerful visual imagery. Surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, denizens of Maya cities responded to the oceanic, inland and atmospheric waters that shaped their existence.

“In 1986, the Kimbell Art Museum’s landmark exhibition The Blood of Kings: Dynasty and Ritual in Maya Art shed new light on the importance of dynastic lineage and blood sacrifice to the Maya,” commented Eric Lee, director of the Kimbell Art Museum. “Recent archaeological discoveries and the deciphering of the Maya glyph for water have led to a new, broader understanding of the expansive influence that water in all its myriad forms had on both the daily life and spiritual beliefs of the Maya people. This exhibition is the next important chapter in Maya research, and I am thrilled that the Kimbell Art Museum will showcase it.”

At the height of its achievement, between 300 and 900 AD, the Maya civilization spanned hundreds of cities across Mexico and Central America. With a culture highly advanced in mathematics, astronomy, architecture and art, the Maya practiced a complex religion and used a refined pictorial writing system composed of more than 800 glyphs. The interpretation of this language has played a role in the understanding of Maya culture. While 90% of glyphs are now understood, it was only in the late 1980s that a glyph for the sea had been identified. Until this key glyph had been unlocked, the importance of the sea in Maya culture had not been fully studied or appreciated. The identification of this glyph, translated literally as “fiery pool,” was part of a growing awareness of the centrality of the sea in Maya life, which has culminated in this exhibition and its companion book.

The exhibition reflects the broad range of media used by Maya artists: massive, carved stone monuments and delicate hieroglyphs, exquisite painted pottery vessels, charming sculpted human and animal figurines, and a lavish assortment of precious goods crafted from jade, gold and turquoise.

“Not only does this exhibition provide a new understanding of the sacredness of the sea in Maya thought and culture,” remarked Jennifer Casler Price, curator for Asian and non-Western Art at the Kimbell Art Museum, “but the objects presented here are stunning examples of the highest caliber of art, from the monumental to the minute, that the Maya ever produced.”

Surrounded by the sea in all directions, the ancient Maya viewed their world as inextricably tied to water, an idea that is explored in the first section of the exhibition, Water and Cosmos. More than a necessity to sustain life, water was the vital medium from which the world emerged, gods arose and ancestors communicated.

A limestone panel from Cancuen, Guatemala, is an exceptional example of Maya sculpture, depicting a ruler known as Tajchanahk, “Torch‐Sky‐Turtle,” seated on a water-lily throne in the royal court while simultaneously inhabiting the watery realm. A bubbling stream delineates the space, with stylized foliage anchoring the corners. For the Maya, the realms of earth, sea, sky and cosmos may have been perceived as flowing into each other rather than as distinct territories of being.

The world of the Maya brims with animal life—animated, realistic and supernatural all at once. The objects in the second section, Creatures of the Fiery Pool, portray a wide array of fish, frogs, birds and mythic beasts inhabiting the sea and conveying spiritual concepts. An effigy of a Caribbean spiny lobster is the only known Maya representation of the creature, excavated in 2007 from one of the oldest sites in Belize. It dates from the turbulent early colonial period, when traditional Maya life was disturbed by the incursion of Spanish soldiers and missionaries. A plugged cavity bearing a stingray spine, three shark teeth and two blades of microcrystalline quartz hints at blood sacrifice. The head emerging from the mouth may be that of a Maya deity.

The section Navigating the Cosmos explores water as a source of material wealth and spiritual power. All bodies of water––rivers, cenotes (deep, inland pools) and the sea––were united, and all could be traversed to a cosmic realm. A magnificent head of a deity with characteristics of the Sun God––a Belize national treasure––is one of the most exquisite works discovered in the Maya world. Weighing nearly ten pounds, it was created from a single piece of jadeite, the color of which was directly associated with the sea. It was found in the tomb of an elderly man, likely cradled in his arm upon burial at the sacred site of Altun Ha.

The final section of the exhibition, Birth to Rebirth, addresses the cyclical motion of the cosmos as the Maya pictured it. The sun rose in the morning from the Caribbean in the east, bearing the features of a shark as it began to traverse the sky. Cosmic crocodiles exhaled storms and battled with gods of the underworld. An elaborate ceramic incense burner from Palenque, Mexico, portrays a deity central to a creation myth. Water-curls on his cheeks and ear ornaments, which link him to the rain god (Chahk), speak of his connection to the watery world. A shark serves as his headdress, topped by a toothy crocodile. From this censer, ritual smoke curled through the city of Palenque, suffusing it with scent and mystery.

Today's News

August 28, 2010

"Nude Visions: 150 Years of Nude Photography" Opens at the Museum of Visual Arts, Leipzig

Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg Presents Exhibition of American Impressionist Paintings

The Kimbell Art Museum Presents "Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea"

Exhibition Brings Together Beautiful, Playful, Whimsical, and Glowing Sculptural Artworks

Tony Cragg in 4D: From Flux to Stability at the International Gallery of Modern Art in Venice

Tangible Signs of Life to Arrive at 9/11 Memorial in New York

Group Wants to Open Historic Albert Kahn Designed Ford Plant for Tours

Anne Morgan's War: Rebuilding Devastated France, 1917-1924 Opens Next Week

Even Under Renovation and Expansion, the Stedelijk Museum Opens a Major Exhibition

Architectural Gems Languish on California Home Market

Georgia Museum of Art Acquires Two Paintings from West Foundation Collection

Christie's to Offer Works from the Alastair Bradley Martin Estate

Tut-Tut: Security Problems Seen in Most of Egypt's Museums

Crocker Art Museum Receives Gift of Ceramics by Rob Barnard

Bonhams Offer Masterpiece from One of the Greatest Arab Artists in Dubai Sale

Winnipeg Art Gallery Acquires Important Painting by John Everett Millais

The New School Names David E. Van Zandt New President

Dramatic Painting Capturing World War Two Horrors Acquired for Ben Uri

Documentary on Purported Adams' Negatives Canceled

John Gossage: The Pond Opens at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

National Museum of American History Receives Record-Breaking Tennis Racquet

LAXART Names Malik Gaines as New Curator

Pritzker's 1st is Silent Film with Live Music

Sotheby's Hong Kong to Hold Important Watches Autumn Sale 2010

Christie's Presents the Fall Sale of Japanese and Korean Art

Discover America's Roots In First-Ever Charles Deas Retrospective

Archives of American Art Marks Kraushaar Galleries' 125th Anniversary

Torpedo Found at Philadelphia Construction Site

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Original 'Star Wars' creators lift lid on special effects challenges

2.- Lost '$170 million Caravaggio' snapped up before French auction

3.- Mansell's 'Red Five' on pole for Bonhams sale

4.- Impressionism's 'forgotten woman' shines in new Paris show

5.- Sotheby's to auction the best-surviving NASA videotape recordings of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

6.- Exhibition explores Dutch and Spanish painting of the 16th and 17th centuries

7.- Cyprus discovers 'first undisturbed Roman shipwreck'

8.- Sotheby's unveils 'Treasures from Chatsworth' with Leonardo Da Vinci drawing, Lucian Freud portraits, and more

9.- Infamous botched art restoration in Spain gets makeover

10.- 1958 Gibson Flying V Korina played by Dave Davies to grab center stage in Heritage Auctions' sale

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful