Sunday, December 30, 2012

Maya News Updates 2012, No. 1

Exhibit "Maya III - Life, Death, Time" at the Didrichsen Museum, Helsinki, Finland

On September 8, 2012 the exhibit "Maya III - Life, Death, Time" opened at the Didrichsen Museum in Helsinki, Finland. During the recent 17th EMC in Helsinki (December 9-16, 2012) an evening visit to this exhibit was planned by the organisers and I had the pleasure of seeing this wonderful exhibit. The exhibit has been layed out in five rooms at the Didrichsen Art Museum (Didrichsen Taidemuseo). Three rooms are dedicated to archaeological artifacts, one room to photographs by Jon Kaplan of Guatemala's Maya children, and one room is used for showing a documentary on the Maya.
A total of 121 archaeological artifacts are shown, a significant number of which has unfortunately no known provenience. The objects illustrate the three subjects of the exhibit: life, death, and time. The exhibit includes various objects of the Didrichsen collection (e.g., a Chochola ballplayer vessel; a polychrome vase; a small Jaina statuette; a K'iche' urn lid with armed warrior). Short explanatory texts accompany the objects, each associated with their catalog number. Most impressive among these objects is the lidded stone box (measuring 38 x 22 x 14 cm.) that was found in situ (containing the fossilized femur of a tapir) in the Hun Nal Ye Cave, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Discovered in early 2005 by Leonidas Javier (the owner of the land on which the cave is located), the stone box was stolen in 2005 or early 2006, but ultimately recovered (on May 31, 2006). The accompanying catalog is a hefty tome edited by Maria Didrichsen and Harri Kettunen. The catalog contains a variety of introductory and in-depth articles written by Arthur Demarest, Christophe Helmke, Harri Kettunen, Jon Kaplan, and Lindsay Renaud. Each article is lavishly illustrated and represents the current state-of-the-art in Maya studies. After the articles a complete catalog can be found, illustrating and describing all archaeological objects and the 23 photographs taken at for instance Chajul and Quetzaltenango. The catalog is trilingual (Finnish, Swedish, and English).
Below are my photographs of ten of the archaeological objects shown at the Didrichsen Museum exhibit (in no particular order). The exhibit opened on September 8, 2012, and runs until April 28, 2013. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, its opening hours are 11-18 (on Wednesdays 11-20). The museum can be reached by car and taxi, but also by local bus transportation (bus lines 194 and 195 for instance, which leave from the Central Train Station).
Didrichsen Taidemuseo/Konstmuseum/Art Museum
Kuusilahdenkuja 1, 00340 Helsinki
+358 (0)9 4778 330

Short description of the ten objects:
IM001: Naranjo, Altar 1 (replica), which opens with a date close to 24,000 years in the past and mentions an important but still enigmatic entity nicknamed "Square-nosed Beastie".
IM002: Dos Pilas, throne arm rest, portraying the Sun God K'inich Ajaw, set against a Solar Disk with centipedes at the corners. In his left hand he holds the head of a deer, possibly with a foot print on its forehead. Deer and peccary are associated with the Sun God as they carry the Sun on its path through the sky (in different seasons) (n.b., this is not a mutually exclusive association).
IM003: Didrichsen Collection: unknown provenience, Chochola-style vessel depicting a ballplayer (hieroglyphic caption mentions a title associated with Oxkintok).
IM004: Didrichsen Collection: Polychrome vessel of unknown provenience (probably central Peten).
IM005: Didrichsen Collection: Armed warrior on lid of urn, of unknown provenience (Highland Guatemala, probably K'iche' area).
IM006: Tikal, Basal Flanged Early Classic Polychrome Bowl, modeled as a turtle with water bird on lid.
IM007: Tikal, Basal Flanged Early Classic Polychrome Bowl, lid modeled as Maize God head.
IM008: Unknown provenience, polychrome vessel portraying Old God in Feathered Turtle Shell (formerly private collection, now at the Museo Nacional in Guatemala).
IM009: Hun Nal Ye Cave, central image on lid of the stone box, showing Maize God holding rabbit, which looks at the Moon (in which the number "30" has been placed, indicative of a lunation of 30 days).
IM010: Kaminaljuyu, part of a stone column found at Structure C-IV-8, shown is a detail of the head of an avian deity.


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