Professor Oswaldo Chinchilla’s new book, “Art and Myth of the Ancient Maya” is now available for purchase from Yale University Press.
This nuanced account explores Maya mythology through the lens of art, text, and culture. It offers an important reexamination of the mid-16th-century Popol Vuh, long considered an authoritative text, which is better understood as one among many crucial sources for the interpretation of ancient Maya art and myth. Using materials gathered across Mesoamerica, Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos bridges the gap between written texts and artistic representations, identifying key mythical subjects and uncovering their variations in narratives and visual depictions. Central characters—including a secluded young goddess, a malevolent grandmother, a dead father, and the young gods who became the sun and the moon—are identified in pottery, sculpture, mural painting, and hieroglyphic inscriptions. Highlighting such previously overlooked topics as sexuality and generational struggles, this beautifully illustrated book paves the way for a new understanding of Maya myths and their lavish expression in ancient art.