Bread became a symbol of wealth and power, tortillas of ignorance and poverty. Some archaeologists argue that food must always have had a divine role even for our earliest ancestors; just think of the cow goddess of Egypt, or Bacchus and Ceres of classical mythology, or Annapurna, the Hindu goddess of food. Explore the collection See all. Objects of ancient art, industry, technology and arms, all of which are in the British Museum's collections, as an introduction to parts of human history. This limestone statue of a Mayan maize god was found in Copán , Honduras. Shell earflare frontals (1995.489a, b) depict the severed head of the Maya Maize God, the personification of a newly harvested ear of corn. British Museum. google_ad_type="text_image"; In a very real sense, the Mexican maize god is still alive, and he's not to be trifled with. Like the maize plant, the maize god is decapitated at harvest time, and is then reborn - fresh, young, and beautiful at the beginning of each new growing season. Apr 11, 2015 - Explore Madame Delacroix's board "Corn God" on Pinterest. So even today for some people it's unthinkable that maize, the divine food, should end up in a petrol tank. Maya Maize God statue at British Museum March 25, 2012. Description. Photo: Jerry Driendl, Map showing where this object was found. It was not until 1930 that it was discovered that pellagra was due to a deficiency in niacin (a mineral that transforms fat and proteins into readily usable body energy). The statue is of the Mayan maize god. The Spanish conquistadores did not understand the need for lime. Most of the content on A History of the World is created by the contributors, who are the museums and members of the public. And no doubt the idea sprang from the recognition of genius and for its protection. Ming banknote from China. And since we don't even have a proper democracy who is to care anyway? google_color_link="000000"; Genius is a commodity every bit as valuable as gold or silver and for this reason alone the God myth was probably created. Maya Maize God | The British Museum Images. The sculpture was probably carved from two different blocks of limestone, one for the head and another for the torso. It was only a short while before the sun, moon and stars were to appear above the makers and modellers. But crucially, maize is a rich carbohydrate that gives you a rapid energy hit. So they spoke; the bearer, begetter, the makers, modellers - and a sovereign plumed serpent - they sought and discovered what was needed for human flesh. It must have taken genius to figure out that the humble maize forebear had the most enormous potential for sustenance and further genius to experiment until its nutritional value had been fully exploited. Early farmers in Mexico grew chilli to make their maize taste better The statue is of the Mayan maize god. There were eight mythological beings, four women and four men, who are the ancestors of all the Maya people. In … The maize god represents both the fact of the agricultural cycle of planting, harvesting and replanting, and the faith in a parallel human cycle of birth, death and rebirth - but more, he is the very stuff of which the Central Americans are made. Â© Trustees of the British Museum, Maize is still one of the most important food sources in Mexico and across the world. Maize was the Mayan's most important food source. Given that we are Homo sapiens sapiens (of very little genius) most likely our slavish greed lust for the precious woods from the dwindling forests of the world will bring a similar price for our children to bear in the absence of any amazingly joined-up genius of our own. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC or the British Museum. Museum stories Desire, love, identity: exploring LGBTQ histories A new audio commentary tour exploring LGBTQ histories in the Museum’s collection has just been launched. Jaguar God Figure - Archaeological Museum - Fort of San Miguel - Campeche - Mexico.jpg 2,736 × 3,648; 1.79 MB Jaguar Maya Collection H Law 156 n2.jpg 3,027 × 2,724; 6.54 MB Jaguar paddler god, Ixlu Stela 2.jpg 1,631 × 1,651; 1.85 MB But then disaster struck. From the 1730s symptoms of digestive disturbances, dementia and death were recorded. It couldn't just be boiled and eaten straight away as it is today. Stone. English: Maya maize god statue. Explore the collection See all. The Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, retells the history of human development from the first stone axe to the credit card, using 100 selected objects from the Museum. This statue shows the Maya maize god as a youthful and handsome man with a stylised corn headdress. Welcome to the History 2701 Wiki, created by the students in Prof. Ari Daniel Levine's World Civilizations I survey at the University of Georgia's Department of History. 'Maize culture faces two new problems, one being the use of maize as a bio-fuel and the increment of prices, where it directly affects the Mexican population. Myths about the death and rebirth of gods helped explain the cycle of the seasons and the return of maize, on which Mayan civilisation depended. This statue shows the Maya maize god as a youthful and handsome man with a stylised corn headdress. So it might be argued that the withholding of information by the conquered Mayan peoples was an act of sabotage which along with similar acts by other American indigenous peoples such as with tobacco and potato appear to be working quite nicely to this day. From Indigenous clothing and Mexican skulls to necklaces made of dolphin teeth, this is one of the most extensive online museum … If you are looking from below, as you should be, you would be looking up directly into his open compassionate gaze. It's able to grow in both the lush wet lowlands and the dry mountainous regions, which means that farmers can plant crops in any of their seasonal dwellings. The Maya maize god. Here, in the heart of the British Museum, we have a god of maize. This figure has not got his eyes closed as you say Ian. We'll be in Japan, with some of the oldest pottery in the world, and the birth of the stew. Such a man or school whose discovery gave the world a food for ever would have been worthy of remembrance and after the fashion of the ancient world deified. This statue shows the Maya maize god as a youthful and handsome man with a stylised corn headdress. Read Maya Maize God Statue by with a free trial. Grains of corn boiled with lime and water are easily milled to obtain a nutritionally rich dough or âmasaâ. Shop unique, award-winning Artisan treasures by NOVICA, the Impact Marketplace. google_ad_height=600; Object 9 of 100. The disease occurred because the Europeans were not able to digest the cornâs nutrients. Maize was the Maya's most important food and was worshipped as a god. The maize god, Hun Hunahpu, was one of the most important owing to his connection with this vital staple crop. View and buy royalty free and rights managed stock photos at The British Museum Images. (Restaurateur Santiago Calva). But there's a particular time, after the end of the Ice Age, so between ten and five thousand years ago roughly, when a range of new foods seems to be accompanied by a range of new gods. Joint project of BBC Radio 4 and the British Museum, consisting of 100 objects used ancient art, industry, technology and arms, all of which are in the collections of the British Museum as the introduction of human history. Very few examples survive to the present because of … Ancient Mayan art is about the material arts of the Mayan civilization, an eastern and south-eastern Mesoamerican culture shared by a great number of kingdoms in present-day southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and western Honduras. The god of maize expected his disciples to work hard for their supper. It was built in AD 715 to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of his accession to the throne. Â© Trustees of the British Museum. Across the world, people began to identify particular plants that would provide them with food. The head of the god is covered with an enormous headdress in the shape of a stylised corn cob, and his hair is like the silky strands that line the inside of a cob of corn, inside the wrapping leaves. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so. : Attribution: Photograph by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net). Originally this statue would have sat with many other similar gods high up on a stepped pyramid-style temple in western Honduras. The model is (at maximum) 8.2 centimetres high, 24.2 cm long and 15.3 cm wide. The disease was later named pellagra. Object 9 of 100. Sign in|Recent Site Activity|Report Abuse|Print Page|Powered By Google Sites, Kakiemon elephants - Porcelain from Japan, Miniature of a Mughal prince - Watercolour from India, Reformation centenary broadsheet from Germany, Russian revolutionary plate - Porcelain from St Petersburg, Shi'a religious parade standard - Steel alam from Iran. google_color_bg="FFFFFF"; Maize was certainly a primary focus of ritual and religious veneration by ancient Meso-American people, going back all the way before the Maya and even into the Olmec civilisation.'. For generations, this was passed on through oral traditions before finally being written down in the seventeenth century. English: Maya maize god statue. Our statue of the maize god is obviously a comparative new boy; he's made as late as AD 700. He was found in Copán, a major Mayan city and religious centre, whose monumental ruins you can still visit today. Corn is different from other cereals: its nutrients are encapsulated in solid particles that do not crack with heat or water. //-->, After the Ice Age: Food and Sex (9000 - 3500 BC), Maya maize god (made around 1,300 years ago). At this point, the Popol Vuh goes back in time to explain who the twins’ ancestors were. Material: Stone The statue is of the Mayan maize god. Especially when you take corn to be used for other purposes other than to be eaten or be worshipped, but rather to be put into a car - it becomes a highly controversial issue.'. The Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, retells the history of human development from the first stone axe to the credit card, using 100 selected objects from the Museum. Maize was the Maya's most important food and was worshipped as a god. Without it, the two key nutrients in the vegetable - the amino acids and vitamin B - would not be released. 10% off for Members Become a Member and enjoy a 10% discount at all of the Museum's shops. Explore the British Museum collection and journey through two million years of human history. In our next programme, we'll be turning from the food of the gods to the vessels that it's cooked in. Aug 26, 2013 - This sculpture of the Maize God was comissioned by Waxaklajuun Ub'aah K'awiil (also known as '18-Rabbit'), the thirteenth ruler of Copán. Collection online showcases more than four million of the Museum's objects. Desire, love and … After that they put into words the making, the modelling of our first mother-father, with yellow corn, white corn alone for the flesh, food alone for the human legs and arms for our first fathers, the four human works.'. google_ad_client="pub-8187633211219907"; The maize god. Shell earflare frontals (1995.489a, b) depict the severed head of the Maya Maize God, the personification of a newly harvested ear of corn. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Stone. Today maize still forms a large part of the Central American diet in the form of tortillas. 10% off for Members Become a Member and enjoy a 10% discount at all of the Museum's shops. google_ad_host="pub-6693688277674466"; Cylinder Vase with dancing maize god, 675-725 AD, Maya culture, eastern Peten lowlands, Guatemala or Belize, earthenware with slip - Gardiner Museum, Toronto - DSC01183.JPG 2,580 × 4,112; 3.35 MB He’s a bust, carved from limestone using a stone chisel and a basalt hammer, and the features are large and symmetrical, the eyes closed, the lips parted – as though this god is in communion with a different world, quietly meditating. And this is pretty obvious in the young maize god - the sculpture was apparently a manifestation of mythological beings resulting from the third Maya creation. Even today, maize still dominates much of Mexican cuisine, and it still carries a surprisingly powerful religious and metaphorical charge, as restaurateur Santiago Calva knows only too well: 'The continuous spin-offs of maize into daily life is vast and complex. Collection online showcases more than four million of the Museum's objects. google_ad_width=120; This page has been archived and is no longer updated. It provides a visual starting point for exploration of the importance of corn and of the harvest cycle as well as the religious beliefs of the Maya. Joint project of BBC Radio 4 and the British Museum, consisting of 100 objects used ancient art, industry, ... Maya maize god statue. For them, lime was synonymous with death, as they used lime to disintegrate organic matter. Under the Mexica ruler, Moctezuma, corn became a symbol of life and fertility and was offered to the Gods as sacrifice. But the culinary secrets of the ancient Mesoamerican cultures have been preserved for centuries. Visit the online shop. AD 175. Read more. From the masa tortillas, tostadas, totopos, sopes, tlacoyos, chalupas and other Mexican streetfoods are baked. The answer lies not in maize's divine connections, but in the environment that Central America offered. By the seventeenth century around 60% of the diet of southern Europe consisted of untreated corn. Why did the Mayans worship maize? Visit the online shop. The white corn masa so loved and revered today in Mexico and amongst Mexican communities abroad is still largely unknown to bakers across the world. It killed thousands. A History of the World in 100 Objects is a joint project of BBC Radio 4 and the British Museum. On top of that, constant harvesting of the grain encourages the plants to grow larger and more abundantly, so maize quickly became plentiful - farmers got a healthy return for investing their labour. The myth of the maize god is just one example of how the development of agriculture led to major changes in how people across the world conceived their gods. This statue shows the Maya maize god as a youthful and handsome man with a stylised corn headdress. Early farmers in Mexico grew chilli to make their maize taste better. Egypt Read more. Desire, love and … google_color_border="FFFFFF"; Maya maize god statue Statue of a Maya maize god. So the European colonisers in Mexico did not eat tortillas or other masa products. There were no easily domesticated animals - as you would find pigs, sheep or cattle elsewhere - and the staples were a trinity of plants that were slowly cultivated and tamed: squashes, beans and maize. The El-Amra clay model of cattle is a small ceramic sculpture dating from the Predynastic, Naqada I period in Ancient Egypt, at around 3500 BC. The Spanish wouldn?t have missed a trick like this if they had realised what problems they would be foisting upon themselves in their greed lust. By AD 1000, maize had spread north and south, virtually through the whole length of the Americas; which is perhaps surprising - because, in its earliest form, not only did maize have little taste, it was practically inedible. It provides a visual starting point for exploration of the importance of corn and of the harvest cycle as well as the religious beliefs of the Maya. Why not wheat or a certain type of meat? The first exhibition in the revamped galleries of the British Museum brings together innumerable and beautiful images of humans from Congolese masks to Yemeni grave markers to Mayan maize … In the Classic period (200-900 AD), the maize deity shows aspects of a culture hero . This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. The mythical story is told in the most famous epic in the whole of the Americas, the 'Popol Vuh'. Where the Hebrew god made Adam out of dust, the Mayan gods used maize to make their humans. The Maya believed in an array of gods who represented aspects of nature, society and professions. It provides a visual starting point for exploration of the importance of corn and of the harvest cycle as well as the religious beliefs of the Maya. It is one of several models found in graves at El-Amra in Egypt, and is now in the British Museum in London. The Mesoamerican cultures discovered more than 5,000 years ago that cooking corn with lime allows the solid particles to crack, releasing the minerals for the body to absorb. Well beyond Mexico, the idea of genetic modification of crops still causes deep unease, as much religious as scientific - a sense that the natural order is being disturbed, that humans are trespassing on territory that's properly reserved for the gods. Today's object is myth-made material; a food god from Central America. Here, in the heart of the British Museum, we have a god of maize. Stone bust in the British Museum, London, England. After all that, it had to be ground into a paste and then made into an unleavened dough. It has virtually no nutritional value but, as we all know, it's uniquely able to liven up dull carbohydrates - and it shows that we've been foodies for as long as we've been farmers. Sculpture of the Maya Maize God, a youth wearing a headdress in the form of a stylized ear of corn and hair in the form of the silk of the cob. The British Museum shop has a range of unique gifts, replicas, games and more. Here, in the heart of the British Museum, we have a god of maize. The Maya maize god. Very few examples survive to the present because of … Maya maize god statue, British Museum WLA lacma Tripod Vessel with Rattles Maya Maya Vessel with an enthroned Lord Kimbell Maya sculpture Louvre MH 82-17-26 Maya maize god statue, British Museum 1 Maya vessel with sacrificial scene DMA 2005-26 WLA metmuseum Maya Vessel with Mythological Scene 8th C Nowadays we like to say 'we are what we eat', but for generations among the faithful, it's been equally true to say 'we worship what we eat'. Their father was defeated by the Lords of Death in the Underworld. It measures approximately 35.4” x 25.25” x14.2” and was made in 715 CE. Read more. google_color_text="565555"; Easily seduced by encyclopedic attempts to organize vast amounts of data, I fell in love with the BBC/British Museum podcast series “A History of the World in 100 Objects.” So I scoured the Museum and am posting one object a day: my terrible iPhone photos and vague memories of what MacGregor & Co. had to say. But he comes at the end of a very long tradition; Central Americans had been worshipping him and his predecessors for thousands of years, and his mythic story mirrors the annual planting and harvesting of the corn on which all Central American civilisation depended. British Museum. And, as they did so, everywhere stories about gods emerged; gods of death and of rebirth, gods who would guarantee the cycle of the seasons and ensure the return of the crops, and gods - more importantly - that represent food itself. 1901,1012.6. The Maya believed that their ancestors essentially came from corn, and they were formed of yellow and white maize dough. In this part of the world at this time around nine thousand years ago, other food resources were very thin on the ground. Many regional artistic traditions existed side by side, usually coinciding with the changing boundaries of Maya polities. In the heart of the British Museum we have a god of maize. Well, the plant from which maize derives, the teosinte, is wonderfully adaptable. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Explore the British Museum collection and journey through two million years of human history. John Staller, anthropologist and author of the book 'Histories of Maize' explains why the maize god was a common choice for rich and powerful patrons: 'The elite from ancient societies focussed upon corn as having sacred kinds of properties which they then associated with themselves. A common medium of Maya sculpture that is almost entirely lost to observers today is that of wood. AD 175. Everybody eats it and drinks it, from the richest to the poorest, from the most indigenous to the least indigenous, and that's one thing that unites more than anything else. This elaborate process of boiling the raw kernel in lime and water was essential. But why did maize become the favoured food and the revered grain of the Americas? From Indigenous clothing and Mexican skulls to necklaces made of dolphin teeth, this is one of the most extensive online museum databases in the world. It needed to be cooked in a mixture of water and white lime. The head is disproportionately large compared to the narrow shoulders and slender torso. After all, people have been stealing from one another from the dawn of time. Read unlimited* books and audiobooks on the web, iPad, iPhone and Android. He was found in a pyramid-style temple in Copan in modern-day Honduras surrounded by many other maize gods. Between the head and the body you can very clearly see the join, and indeed the head looks rather too big for the body, because when the temple in Copán (in western Honduras, from which this came) was destroyed, all the statues fell, and heads and bodies were pieced together, but whether this head and this body precisely belong together is actually not the key thing - because all these gods are about the central power, the central role, of maize to the local people. But it is, let's face it, pretty stodgy, and so from very early on, farmers also cultivated an ingenious - and tasty - accompaniment; the indigenous chilli. It is part of the cultural identity.' It provides a visual starting point for exploration of the importance of corn and of the harvest cycle as well as the religious beliefs of the Maya. google_ad_format="120x600_as"; The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. And his gestures, assuming they belong to the head, would undoubtedly have acted as prompts of some kind in any normal oral tradition of learning. Statue of the Maya maize god from CopÃ¡n in Honduras. The arms are bent, the palms of the hands face outwards – one raised, one lower – giving an impression of serene power. Thomasina Miers, Owner, Wahaca Mexican Market Eating. 'It's always present in one way or another - either to be eaten, or to be looked at, or to be worshipped.