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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Loving the mix

Someday I will get back to my usual plants-and-animals posts, but for now we are enjoying the human cultural mix to be found here in Merida (despite its often-tragic history). Yesterday brought the opportunity to tour the archaeological museum housed in the Palacio Canton, a luscious (or perhaps ludicrous) Beaux Arts confection of a building, constructed in 1904.

Porticos, pilasters, quoins, cornices, even gargoyles: this building has them all.

(And yes, I loved it, even though the porches and piazzas were closed to the public.)

And we cannot ignore the unusual touch of an ancient stone phallus displayed in the side yard.

Inside, the museum was an incongruous mix of this obviously European-inspired building with a display on the history and cultures of the Maya peoples of the eastern Yucatan prior to the Spanish conquest. This stairwell summed it up for me:

The artifacts displayed covered various periods, materials, and styles, ranging from the simple pottery of the pre-classic period to exquisite jade jewelry meant to convey the importance of its owner (and probably make him or her long for the ceremony to be over so that the ridiculously heavy thing could be taken off).

My favorite piece, though, was the dancing jaguar. (Apologies for the less-than-excellent photo.)

My limited reading of Maya myth suggests that jaguars are often associated with death and the underworld, and this fellow, with his arms, legs, or whatever they are, reminds me of another dancing god, the Hindu Shiva, whose dance represents the world of birth, death, and rebirth. Coincidentally, the earliest dancing Shiva seems to have been created as about the same time as the dancing jaguar at Chichen Itza.

Another historical mystery to ponder.

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