Portraits

Maize God from CopánMaize God from CopánAncient Maya (Copán, Honduras, Temple 22), n.d.
Stone
Mayavase K2889a
© Justin Kerr
Maize God from Copán
Bust sculptureBust sculptureAncient Maya (Uxmal, Mexico), A.D. 300-900
Limestone, plaster, paint
Courtesy, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution 081972.000
Bust sculpture
SculptureSculptureAncient Maya (Copán, Honduras), A.D. 300-900
Stone, wax, paint
Courtesy, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution 008601.000
Sculpture

Mayan artists also created ornate portrait forms. These focused on the face and consisted of smooth facial features and expressions. Maize God was one of a series of sculptures that formerly lined the roof on structure 22 at Copán. Maize God was created with a phenomenal amount of realistic detail. Youthful male beauty is represented in this piece through his graceful pose, gesturing motion, and individuality. His realism exemplifies that gods also held human, bodily forms.

The next portrait may resemble a young individual created in a manner similar to Maize God. His eyes look toward the distance, and he seems centered in his awareness. The positions of his facial features are realistic as seen in the youthful flesh of his left p’u’uk (cheek). He is an example how one can almost sense his psychological qualities by his expression.

The last portrait illustrates an artistic expression that is distinctive from the other two. This individual is embellished in jewels and other adornments; his facial features are most effective due to their perfect anatomical presentation and position.

* About Copán: Copán was an ancient Maya city in Honduras during the Classic Period (250 AD to 900 AD.) Today, it is one of the best-preserved ancient Mayan sites.

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