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Maya Caves (Ch´e´en)

Glyphs for Caves

      Petén Caves             ·     Alta Verapaz Caves                  Maya Caves Gallery  

Naj Tunich Formation     Caves may have been the most sacred places in the ancient Maya landscape, representing the entrance to Xibalbá (the underworld), but up until two decades ago, they had been all but ignored by archaeologists. Almost all Maya sites had Tall Temples and subterraneous passages under them, a recreation of the Maya Cosmology, notably, important sites as Cancuén that have Pyramid shape Mountains and Caves (Candelaria and San Francisco) nearby, lack these tall Temples, being a confirmation of the importance of these two features in the Maya city planning, Others as Gu’marcaj’ in Quiché have man made caves

     The most typical colours found in the Cave Art are black and red. Visual inspection suggests that black was usually derived from charcoal, although other black pigments, like manganese may have been used. The red (usually an orange-red) comes from iron-rich clays Hul Nal Yé Cave offerings Alta Verapazfound in the caves themselves, as well as ground hematite (a bright, deep red). Yellow and blue are rare, the former occurring at Cueva de las Pinturas in Petén, Guatemala. Maya caves also contain graffiti and positive and stencilled handprints and, more rarely, footprints, bothDrawing and text in Naj Tunich positive and negative. Sculpted cave art constitutes the other major group. Rock carvings, or petro glyphs, are made by incising, abrading, and pecking, the most common techniques employed in the production of Maya cave sculpture. Another class of cave sculpture includes three-dimensional images modelled in crude clay, a rare and very fragile art form. Indeed, these sculptures are frequently destroyed not long after discovery.

      The pigment-based and sculpted cave art, exhibit differences that go well beyond the use of different media and techniques; in fact, they vary so dramatically that they seem to have different motivations as well as different artistic sources. Pigment-based art is more likely to follow the pictorial conventions of Maya high art. Paintings typically portray symbols and naturalistic forms, particularly animals and humans, seen in the scribal art tradition, such as in pottery painting and monumental relief sculpture. While a small percentage of the sculpted cave art also was inspired by elite Maya art, the bulk of it is technically crude and seems to lie outside of the high art tradition. For instance, cave petro glyphs often consist of meandering geometric patterns and simple frontal faces, nothing at all like the grand sculptures of the great Classic Maya cities. The crudeness and Furmation in Cave, Actún Kan, Petén, Our Webmasterinscrutable designs of Maya cave sculpture do not make it any less important, however, as evidence of past human behaviour. Indeed, the diversity of sources and styles of Maya cave art is a signal of the cave’s functional complexity in Maya society.

      Guatemala has a vast number of caves, especially in Petén and the Verapaz regions, and certainly there are more waiting to be uncovered, some Caves are still used by the local Maya descendants as Sacred and worship places. During the Maya era, theLas Pacayas, Uspantán, Quiché, still used for ceremonies caves had two main uses, one of particular or familiar worship in which the individual go to make petition to the gods and for this, they used every day use pottery that were shredded and always remove one piece of it that was placed in other part of the cave, and a community worship in witch Ceremonial pottery and altars were used. Several Obsidian and Jade objects are also found as offers in these caves. To this date, only few Caves have been thoroughly investigated, and have permanent vigilance, to prevent looting and vandalism.  We will try to mention just a few of them. See  Petén Caves, Alta Verapaz Caves and the Maya Caves Gallery

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Last updated 28/01/2011 17:07:35 -0500
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