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Art Diary

Lives of the Gods: Divinity in Maya Art

25 November 2022

This exhibition (21 November–2 April 2023) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York celebrates the inventiveness with which ancient Maya artists portrayed the life cycles of their gods. From intricately carved sculptures to ceramics with painted illustrations, it brings together nearly 100 works that range in scale from the monumental to the miniature. A delicate, hand-modelled ceramic sculpture depicting the head of a young Maize god, emerging from the centre of an ear of corn, is one of a number of works on show here that depict gods in their salad days. Maya artists often imbued the gods in humorous scenarios; a seventh–eighth century ceramic shows Itzamnaaj, one of the most important gods in the canon, riding a wild pig, while a caption above the figure shows the god asking for a man for directions. Some works depict the gods relaxing during the later stages of their lives; among them is a square vessel (755–780) showing an elderly, jaguar-eared god sat on a throne and smoking a cigar. Find out more on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website.

Preview belowView Apollo’s Art Diary here

Whistle with the Maize God emerging from a flower (600–900), Mexico. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Vessel (755–80), Lo’ Took’ Akan (?) Xok. Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Panel with royal woman (c. 795), K’in Lakam Chahk and Jun Nat Omootz. Cleveland Museum of Art