Classic period Maya (A.D. 250–900) established a rich creative heritage, including carved stone, painted pottery, clay figures, and screen-fold bark books containing paintings and hieroglyphic text. Maya ceramic artisans were well-educated members of the ruling class. They designed and made objects using natural materials such as wood, bone, shell, horn, and stone. The most important material for making art was always in demand: obsidian. It was used as a knife blade, arrowhead, and spear point.
During the Late Classic period (A.D. 600–750), the number of known artifacts increases dramatically. New styles of carving emerge, such as the "trumpet" nose profile common during this time. Also around A.D. 600, polychrome painting becomes popular again after an absence from earlier works. Polychrome means using more than one color on a single object. During the 7th century, many cities throughout what is now Mexico underwent major changes in architecture. New buildings with flat roofs appeared across the region. These may have been used as ceremonial centers. Around A.D. 800, large cities like Chichén Itzá and Tulum experienced severe population declines due to attacks by other indigenous people or disease.
The 9th century saw the rise of new kingdoms in central Mexico that competed with each other for power. This led to an increase in warfare and violence against civilians.
MAYA CULTURE AND SUCCESS
The Maya saw sculpture not just as an art form, but also as a reflection of themselves, their way of life, and their civilization. Carvings in wood, obsidian, bone, shells, jade, stone, clay, stucco, and terracotta figures from molds were used to construct their sculptures. Some scholars believe that the Mayan sculptors used models or references for inspiration. They also may have used maps or globes to determine where certain subjects should be placed in relation to one another.
The Maya believed that sculptures had spiritual power and they treated them with respect. Sculptures were important tools for communicating ideas, values, and beliefs to people. The Maya used sculptures to honor their gods and to ask for help from those gods in times of need. They also used sculptures as educational tools for their children.
Some examples of how the Maya used sculpture include: as altars to worship their gods; as markers on roads; as decorations for buildings; and as ritual objects.
Sculpure-work was done by men and women. Men created most of the sculptures that have been found dating from about 250 B.C. to A.D. 1500. Women probably made sculptures, too, but they have not been found yet.
It is hard to say which artists were famous because there were no names given to individuals who carved statues.
Stone sculptures, architecture, pottery, wood carving, and wall painting are some of the most well-known types of Mayan art. Mayan artisans were masters in stone sculpture and masonry. Many Mayan structures have stone engravings that are typically religious in nature. Pottery was also an important medium for Mayan artists to express themselves. They made jars, bowls, and other containers for storing food and drink.
Wood is widely used by the Maya for artwork. The wood is often painted or stained a color other than its natural state. This allows the artist to display his/her creativity by choosing what type of artwork to create. Sometimes the objects are carved entirely out of wood; other times, they use parts of the tree to create a figure or scene.
Maya artists also painted on cloth. This is called "codex painting" because the paintings are found inside books or scrolls. These books were used by priests as teaching tools while preaching in church services or at ceremonial events.
There are many different kinds of Mayan art. Sculptures, including those made from stone, metal, shell, and bone; paintings on cloth; and ceramics all were created by Mayan artists. The most famous forms of Mayan art are the stone carvings found in temples. These often show gods with human bodies clad in elaborate feathered costumes.
CULTURE AND SUCCESS IN MAYA The Ancient Mayans invented astronomy, calendar systems, and hieroglyphic writing. They were also well-known for their spectacular ceremonial architecture, which included pyramids, temples, palaces, and observatories. All of these constructions were erected without the use of metal tools. Instead, they were built using only natural materials such as stone and wood. These structures were used as tombs, but some have survived to the present day.
EDUCATION AND LEARNING THE ANCIENT MAYANS established schools in every community they ruled over. Their curriculum included mathematics, history, science, religion, and language. Hieroglyphics was also taught as a means of communication outside of normal court proceedings or official documents. This ability to communicate using symbols instead of words is what makes hieroglyphics unique and important in anthropology.
ARCHITECTURE FOR DEFENSE The Ancient Mayans built their cities on high platesaus because they wanted to be able to see enemy approaching. This allowed them to take precautions against attack; if enemies were seen approaching, buildings would be raised or walls would be fortified.
TEMPLES The main purpose for building temples was to pray to the gods for good weather, safe journeys, and other blessings. However, the Ancient Mayans also used their temples to display their power and honor others who had been helpful to society.