The Mayan art, particularly the Mayan paintings were all depiction of the cultures and traditions of this once great civilization in Mesoamerica. Of course, other early civilizations may also have their paintings and sculpture depict their earlier lifestyle. But, the Mayan paintings along with its architectural designs and sculpture are very distinct in style and they are always considered as the most beautiful in the ancient New World. The development of the Mayan art, particularly the Mayan paintings, started during the pre-classic period. This was around 1500 B.C. to 250 A.D.
Most of the paintings along with woodcarving, weaving, ceramics, among others, depicted the daily routinely lives of the Mayans during those times. From each these media that they used to depict their lifestyles, one can clearly see the Mayan lifestyle and culture. If one should scrutinize the art works of the Mayans, they mostly depict men and women who were in power and were highly regarded as “next to the gods” and they gave huge meaning to the history of their culture and civilization. There is no doubt that those who were in power were also considered as god-like to the whole ancient Mayan community.
There are many different ways that Mayans have expressed their feelings, their respect towards powerful personalities but nothing can be compared to those Mayan paintings unearthed by archaeologists and anthropologists. It seems that the Mayans are fond of using huge walls as their canvasses which are called as murals, thus, mural paintings. Yes, indeed, colorful murals are part of the Mayan art and have actually influenced modern art as to this day.
One of the most notable and most beautiful of all art forms that they have created can be found at the Copan. It is a hieroglyphic stairway that depicts mostly the Mayan way of life and it also shows the cultural ceremonies that they are holding such as bloodletting and sacrifices. In most of the paintings, it can be clearly seen that that Mayan civilization is not actually one big unified empire. It is rather a multitude of separate communities but they have a common cultural background. If one would look at different paintings from different areas of the Mesoamerica, they can tell whether it’s a different community or not.
One can understand the significance of the art works of the Mayans because they were religiously and artistically a nation and through their paintings, just like the modern world, they can express not just their beliefs but also their way of life as well.
The bad news is, however, some of their works from sculptures to paintings and to their ancient literature, they were all destroyed either through natural means as time goes by and passes them, but, they were also destroyed by the Spanish invaders because the Spaniards thought of their cultures and traditions and even their religion as somewhat Satanic in nature. If not Satanic, they are signs or symbols of idolatry.
Through these paintings, one can find just how zealous a Mayan is. They were so fanatically religious that they emphasize on pleasing their gods with human sacrifices. For them, this was not a form of murder or killings just for the sake of killing for pleasure. But, they kill so that the gods will be pleased and they will be reward with great bounty, peace and serenity all over their lands. For the civilized race like the Spaniards, this was intolerable.
However, today, there are still a lot of evidences that the Mayans are still alive and well up to this day. Even though one can find the great cities of the Maya in the past now being blown in the wind as dust, the paintings and sculptures of the Maya as well as its culture and tradition are still great influences in modern-day civilization.