Festival of dance and the new times

What inspires the creation of the FESTIVAL OF THE DANCE AND THE NEW TIMES? (Work in progress)

This mural is inspired by at least 7 Mayan pictorial works on vessels of the kingdom of Ik and other cities of the Peten of the VIII and IX centuries. Works small but extraordinarily beautiful and amazing simplicity and design.

   I tried to rescue themes such as the nudity and energy of the serpent women and the gazelle, which is alluded to in several works of the late Mayan classic, at least in those works where we can recognize its origin and its time.

  But the central figure, those who display the source of the primary conflict, are the wahis dancers of Mon Buluch Laj of the Kingdom of Ik. While the Mayans lived the splendor of their late classical times, along with Bonampak and Calakmul, they might not be aware of the winds of change and fragmentation approaching. Times of change together with the flowering of an eternal and beautiful pictorial work that also reached its flowering not only in walls, slopes and panels but also in vessels and plates.

   This is a representation that concerns not only them in their time, but to us in ours with a revitalization of the figure of the woman and, most probably, the fall of the symbols that used to keep us united, perhaps so that other symbols arise Or remain orphaned by culture and identity.

 The pointed hand of the woman in the gazelle is also an attempt to breathe life into the times that come, between reality and foreshadowing of what the IX century brought for them and what will bring the XXI century for us or for those That survive.

Poisonous, voluptuous and sacred women (part 1): to die eroticized.

Nothing more exalted for a God than to die confronted by the challenge of life ... and a naked woman.

 Using the Gods to project one's libido desires is as old, as current and as subconscious as the history of religions. In this representation, the old God Itzamna is dying, at one end of the vessel. Four women accompany him on his deathbed. Two of them pitied by the approaching death. The third and fourth, observe, with reproach and astonishment, the defiant presence of two naked maidens and mounted on wild deer.

The maiden, the one who hugs the deer, who shows her breasts without flushing, that which directs her sight to the sky, or to the lips of the drinker, is the maiden who heads the primary challenge of this confrontation of death with life.

This is not just a contrasting scene: gloomy and erotic. It is the energy of life that cannot overcome death and sadness. It is the clear message of eroticism as the polar opposite of death. It is the contraposition of decrepitude and death against femininity and freshness, which have caused the world to rotate for eternity, until we kill it -  just as the Maya of the ninth century resented it for the first time.

Yes, the same force that ends with Itzamna, is the same that fight day by day against nudity and eroticism.

Surely there will be other interpretations historically more accurate and reliable than mine. I am interested in what Mayan art tells me today. I am interested in the current language that the Mayas speak to me, for over 2000 years.

Drink, pretend, fight: The same party animals of 14 centuries ago ...

Hopefully, every Mayan pictorial work could tell its place, its time and its creators. The truth is that Maya art and especially almost all work on vessels and plates, was broken, stolen and extracted from their original places. Many pieces can just be identified in terms of time and place based on the Style and chemical composition of mud and pigments. Of these 4 glasses to be shown, we have their catalog number, but some of them in fact "belong" to unknown collectors.

The truth is that before, as now, pulque, fermented honey, or beverages combined with cocoa, were a cause for celebration and altercation. These were the few occasions when hierarchies disappeared, at least for a while.
In this kind of collage, I collected 4 fragments of different vessels. The one on the left is a feast in which masked characters participate, perhaps with the same intention that people disguise themselves in the carnivals. It is a primitive style and even far from the achievements of the best of the kingdom of Ik.

The second is an image of Campeche, closely related to the murals of Calakmul. It is a simple stroke, with 4 or 5 colors. The woman helps the man to drink. She wears a wide robe, which contrasts with the almost nudity of the black-painted diner. She looks at him more, in an attitude of protection similar to that of the other woman in this work.

The third fragment is a work of the kingdom of Ik. It is the only one that loses the sense of coexistence without hierarchies that characterize the others. The complete scene includes a ruler, two dwarves and hunchbacks and some junior guests. There is not the same sense of festivity as the other 3 fragments.

The fourth fragment is the scene that is still familiar in our daily lives of canteen and pulqueria. The character who draws attention is the one who does not want to leave. The one who is pushed to leave, to stay and to get up. In that scene there are no hierarchies. Pulque eliminates differencesAnd women participate in some way.
The Mayan world suggests much of what we are today, even after 14 centuries, at least.

"You Kill It or I Do It": Maya realism of the Kingdom of Ik

Waiting for the final blow. 
While closing the eighth century, Mayan realism in painting, in vessels, plates and murals, was reaching its climax.

At the same time the confrontations between Mayas grew and the themes were changing to and from the Gods, to the subject of the wars and defeats of the defeated, with some exceptions.

One of the issues that arises in an increasingly common way is that of the defeat and sacrifice of others. In several cases the sacrifice does not have ritual or religious connotations and begins to become a spectacle, public or private, of executions.

In spite of the anger of the rulers against others, the execution of those who were defeated remained in the hands of a vassal, whose conscience may have been different. One thing is to kill in battle and another is to execute a fallen and beaten Maya, by orders of a ruler.

The scene in this glass of the Kingdom of Ik, is an execution by direct mandate. The attitude of waiting and cruelty of the ruler, the forward torsion of his body, the right hand that contains his outburst, while preparing to see the execution of a beaten and defeated man, can not be better expressed.

The defeated man is almost a naked corpse. Devoid of honor, hope and bleeding wounds that show their fate. He just waits for the blow to finally end this.

To be the executioner does not appear to be neither honorable nor pleasant, even when under the direct scrutiny of the ruler.

A vassal does what he is ordered to do, but he is confronted by his own emotions of shame, pity, and fear. And he has only one hand to turn to: his own.
He, himself is comforted, in a gesture that can anticipate the final blow ... while the royal executioner waits restless, anxious and threatening the final blow.

The palette of the painter is only three or four colors, which does not prevent achieving the dramatic effect it generates, with precise strokes and a minimal number of lines on the simple circular space of a glass.

(A work of the painters of the Kingdom of Ik, with catalog number K5850, most likely from the late eighth or early nineteenth century.)

Recollections and transmutations remembered, revived primitive styles

Remembering the transmutation, imitating previous primitive styles.

By the year 750 the painters of the Kingdom of Ik, had consolidated their pictorial art in glasses and jars. On September 28, 753 AD, according to the date in a glass, the execution of a prisoner is remembered, with a style that seems to be a step backwards from the degree of sophistication that the painters of Ik had already reached.

In the glass is shown a prisoner sitting on a gallows, tied hand and foot, while being presented to a lord of the Kingdom of Ik. Several other gentlemen of lower rank present the sentenced, so that once executed, the space that leaves his body inert and his spirit, released, be occupied by the lord of Ik, fat and half sitting waiting or receiving something from the first companion of the prisoner.

If it had been a representation elsewhere, it would not attract attention the rudimentary of some traces, the flat and two-dimensionality of the figures and the traits that reveal that there was some influence of the masters of the Pink Glyphs and even of the same Mon Buluch. It would not surprise the apparent forced primitivism, but it is a work of the Kingdom of Ik in the years of the splendor of his painting!
Why imitate an outdated style? Could it even be that this style of executions-transmutations was itself a remembrance of the past?

The glass reads, like other vessels of the Kingdom of Ik, from left to right while the glass is rotated. And the man who turns his back on the prisoner, actually stands behind the lord of Ik, behind three others, who are eyewitnesses to the transmutation that is about to happen.

The figures are actually outlines in black, with flat uniform fillings in red brick colors and with rudimentary expressions, which barely suggest what is about to happen.

Is the scene a remembrance of the past happened or a justification of the present, to remember what the ancestors of a rite did that refused to die?

Undoubtedly, the trace reveals that feigning a rudimentary outline, emphasized the state of evolution that had reached the painting in vessels in 753 AD.

Mon Buluch Laj (1 out of 6)

On January 20, 755 AD, Mon Buluch Laj of the Maya Kingdom of Ik, signed and finished a vessel designed and painted by he. The vase is a sample of the high level of design and naturalism that reached Mayan painting even in expressions as tiny (in dimension) as the vessels and plates.

This particular vase stands out not only for the design, not only for the way of printing movement in that small circular space of the vase, also stands out for the treatment of its theme: wahys. In this painted vase, nine wahys appear in three apparent confrontations / invocations that occur in the dreams and preoccupations of his time and his sponsor. Three themes confronted by wahys dancers where each of the three scenes summon / invoke three realities of dreams and fears. 

Obviously what we will describe in future postings is one of several interpretations that have been given to the work of Mon Buluch Laj from the Maya kingdom of Ik (now Motul de San Jose, Guatemala).
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Mon Buluch Laj (2 of 6) and the triple dance of the wahys

Mon Buluch describes in his small great work a triple dance of wahys. According to BR Just, a wahy are neither representations of actual dancers, nor transfigured representations of kings, are allusions to dreams or dream characters, and dream themes of that time. The wahy glyph does not seem to be either simple or univocal. It can mean daydreaming, magician or magic, co-essence of one. In its sense of co-essence would mean the extra-corporal extensions of the spiritual part of a person that were translated into supernatural animals.

In the work of Mon Buluch Laj in particular, the Wajis have a nocturnal and even malevolent connotation, which can be translated into fears of disease, epidemics and other terrors of the night - at night, just the time when the sun ( Full manifestation of life) is absent. And for the Mayan of his time, the malevolent figures waited for the night to leave their hidden place, in the jungles and forests.

The dance of the wahys, represented in a glass (and perhaps complete tableware) could be only a reminder or an invocation, just as dance and rituals filled squares and temples when dates, calendars, events Specials and customs dictated it.

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