Mayan beauty featured in exhibition at Mérida’s Palacio Cantón

Photo: Robert Adams

Many beautiful figures of humans, animals, deities and supernatural beings are featured in the exhibition, “Mayas: El lenguaje de la belleza” (“Mayas: The language of beauty”) currently at the Palacio Cantón Regional Museum of Anthropology in Mérida.

The exhibit, on display through February 2016, was assembled by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History and already has visited China, where it reportedly drew 135,000 visitors to the National Museum.

The exhibit includes 278 pieces in ceramic, stone, jadeite and shell from Campeche, Chiapas, Tabasco, Quintana Roo and Yucatán. The pieces, ranging from large stone sculptures to tiny ceramic figurines, date from 100 B.C. to 1200 A.D.

Although the striking pieces generally speak for themselves, the accompanying explanatory signage sheds light on how the concept of beauty permeated various aspects of Maya life. Most of the signage is in both Spanish and English.

The exhibit is divided into four sections. The first focuses on how the Mayas modified and adorned their bodies to reflect their notions of beauty. The second concerns garments and adornments that reflected social class distinctions. The third deals with animals important to the Maya, and the fourth with their deities.

The Palacio Cantón, located at #485 Paseo de Montejo between Calles 41 and 43 in Colonia Centro, is an impressive example of the gilded elegance of the mansions constructed by Mérida´s elite families in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The two-story structure, one of the grandest of Merida´s restored mansions, features an abundance of marble and a domed central hallway.

Entrance costs $52 pesos for adults. Guided tours are available. Hours are Tuesday – Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is a small children´s area and a bookstore and gift shop with a wide range of books, magazines and CDs on the Maya and regional architecture, history and culture.

For more information on Palacio Cantón, you can visit or call 999-923-0557.


Text and photos by Robert Adams



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