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Taiwan Fun Magazine, August 2002

" Maya: Mysteries in the Jungle"

Compiled by Li Shya Translated by Cheryl Robbins

    The dense tropical rain forests of Mesoamerica hold many mysteries, but none are more amazing than the Mayan civilization that thrived deep within its jungles from the third to the tenth centuries. Mayan achievements - awe-inspiring temples, a highly evolved calendar and sophisticated writing system, to name just a few - are remarkable even by today's standards. You can catch a glimpse of Mayan culture at the National Museum of History, where one hundred fifteen artifacts are on special loan from the NAME OF INSTITUTION, Guatemala.

    The display is thematically arranged in five galleries. "Rain Forest" provides an introductory overview of the region and of ancient city ruins. "Amazing Discoveries" presents earthenware vessels, and jade and shell ornaments that reveal aspects of daily life. The Mayan world comes dramatically into view as visitors enter "The Mysterious City Nation" through a recreated city gate. Exhibits here reveal a complex social and religious order, and fantastic creatures and exotic jungle species used as visual motifs.

    "Heaven and Earth", highlighting Mayan belief, and "The Eternal Wisdom of the Maya", perspectives on achievements in math and astronomy, round out this incredible display.

    Artifacts range from Pre-Classic to Post Classic periods and span more than 2,500 years including the evolution of Mayan culture through its downfall. A rudimentary stone pestle (ca. 1,000-250BC) hints at the advanced civilization that would follow.

    A well-developed agricultural system, elaborate monuments, a sophisticated cosmic view and ritual sacrifice mark the Classic Period. Polychrome clay wares used in ceremony and dated to this period are on view; their designs include captivating images of warriors feasting before battle and delicate hieroglyphics all painted in warm earth tones. A red terracotta vessel with figures and pictographs painted in what is known as "Mayan blue" is a rare example. Jade wristlets, earrings, gems and precious funerary objects buried in tombs of the nobility are also on view.

     "Maya. Mysteries in the Jungle" shares remarkable treasures with museum lovers in Taiwan.
    Special thanks to Ms. Wang Wan-ru and Ms. Lin Hsiao-yu of the Taiwan Museum of Art and Ms. Kuo Hui-miao of the National History Museum for providing information.
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