Maya craftsman receives support from the British Museum to create pigment

Luis May found the plant that he uses for ink in Cobá, Tulum, Quintana Roo.

Tulum Quintana Roo, (May 17, 2021).- In an interview, Luis May, a native of the Dzan municipality of Yucatán, but living for more than 20 years in Cobá, Tulum municipality of Quintana Roo, explained that it was in this region where he found the ‘ch’oj’ (maya name) plant, whose properties allowed him to find an organic pigmentation ink with good durability.

“Returning the riches of the ancestors to the new Maya generations is my goal,” said Luis May, promoter of the Azul Maya pigment in Tulum, who recently received a grant from The British Museum in the United Kingdom.

Photo: (La Jornada Maya)

“There was no blue in our environment, I began to investigate and I realized that blue was manufactured by the pre-Hispanic ancient Maya people, so I began to conduct tests. After a year of researching in towns, with Maya indigenous people and books, I finally managed to come up with a similar color ”, stated the interviewee, who is a sculptor, ceramist, elementary school teacher and head of the House of Culture of the community of Cobá.

He was proud that scientists and prestigious laboratories from various parts of Mexico have already requested the ink to make comparative tests with those of ours ancestors. In addition, many artists have used the pigment in their works of art and decoration and are happy with the product, because it is also very resistant and the color does not degrade.

Photo: (La Jornada Maya)

“We are setting this project for the Maya people, with the vision of reviving this tradition, a Maya natural activity for Mexico and the world,” he said.
 

International reach

The artist emphasized that international institutes appreciate “what values ​​us as Maya”, as is the case of The British Museum, which awarded him a grant to continue working with the ch’oj plant, from its cultivation, process, and the elaboration of the final product.

He stated that this ancestral color extract is ideal for handicrafts, for which he is already cultivating this plant with more than 50 farmers from Cobá and Yucatán; they estimate to plant 10 to 15 hectares for this year.

Photo: (La Jornada Maya)

“The idea is to give back to the Maya people what belongs to them. It is a long-term project, as the first instance is to visit local farmers and show them the cultural vision of Azul Maya. The only population that produces ink is in Oaxaca, it is a mixed plant, while ours is totally native. I have been collecting seeds for three years and have given them to people who intend to plant them, this is a very important project for the preservation of the Maya culture”, Luis May concluded.

Source: La Jornada Maya



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