Museum Collections - Mesoamerica - Maya (Post Contact)

Young men from Todos Santos, Guatemala

The Maya culture, ancient examples of which can found throughout this exhibition, is not a vanished one. Today in their traditional homelands, the descendants of the ancient Maya number some six million. While they speak, as their ancestors did, dozens of distinct and mutually unintelligible Mayan languages, there has always been a remarkable degree of cultural cohesion among Maya peoples. In ancient times the Maya remained distinct and in control of the Maya area. Even during a period of repressive colonization by the Spanish, the Maya demonstrated tremendous resistance while neighbouring indigenous groups were rapidly conquered.

Today the Maya world has become the territory of several different nations. All of the countries have long been freed from the colonial yoke of the Spanish, but there has been little respite for the Maya. In recent decades in particular, the Maya have been forced to bear unprecedented amounts of repression under some modern regimes. Maya culture has changed dramatically - infusing Christian beliefs with ancient ones, modern technology with time-honoured life ways, and Western fashions with traditional weavings - but as the culture changes through time, as all cultures do, the strength and sense of a Maya identity endures.

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Thumbnail Link to Maya (Post Contact) Artifact 1 catalogue pageThumbnail Link to Maya (Post Contact) Artifact 2 catalogue pageThumbnail Link to Maya (Post Contact) Artifact 3 catalogue page