Posted by: ktzefr | March 19, 2019

A Walk in the Maya World

Chac-mool from Chichen Itza, at the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, Merida, Yucatan

     I first came to Yucatan in the early 1980s and it was all about hanging out on the beach and shopping for souvenirs in San Miguel de Cozumel.  I didn’t learn anything about the Mayan people and culture until years later. When I became interested in Mayan history, I went back to Yucatan, skipped the beaches, and discovered what would become one of my favorite cities in Mexico. 

Plaza Principal, Merida, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

    Merida is on the west coast of the Yucatan peninsula, a city of a million-plus people, full of history and far from the sunseekers on the Riviera Maya.  It’s sunny and hot here year round, and the Gulf is only 30-45 minutes away, but Merida is much more than a place to stretch out in the sun.  There is a lot to love — the pretty plazas, friendly people, great restaurants, and  the city is bursting at the seams with cultural events and activities, museums and galleries and theaters with something happening almost every night.  In February we spent an afternoon with a Mexican friend at the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya.  

    The Grand Museum of the Mayan World is a world-class museum that celebrates Maya culture and traditions with more than 1,000 well-preserved artifacts, including a chac-mool sculpture (top of page) from Chichen Itza.  It’s the perfect place to visit before (or after) seeing the ruins at Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Coba, or the myriad other ruins of Mayan cities along the Puuc route.  The building itself is modern, almost otherworldly, with the main part designed in the form of a ceiba tree, sacred to the Maya who believed that it connected the living with the underworld and the heavens.  It has numerous interactive exhibits and is trilingual (Spanish, Maya, and English).  The four halls include The Mayab, Nature, Culture; Ancestral Maya; Yesterday’s Maya; and Today’s Maya.  

Here’s a quick look at a few of the interesting displays:

Maya Codex, Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, Merida, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

The museum has a complete facsimile of the Madrid Codex, one of only four pre-Conquest Maya manuscripts in existence.  

Maya Codex, Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, Merida, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

The ancient Maya considered jade to be divine and much more important than gold.  Jade was used to fashion jewelry, as well as artistic and religious objects.  Rulers were often buried wearing jade death masks.

Jade necklace, Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, Merida, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

A stunning red wall shows the face of a Mayan ruler, a replica of the Temple of the Masks at Kohunlich.

Replica of the Temple of the Masks at Kohunlich, Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, Merida, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

The various exhibits contain Mayan weapons, pottery, and a miscellany of other interesting objects.

Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, Merida, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

 

Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, Merida, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, Merida, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

Merida is a great base to explore the Mayan world and enjoy an inviting contemporary world as well.  For more info about this terrific museum check out the website here: Gran Museo del Mundo Maya

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