Tuesday, August 23, 2011

in the presence of a haughty lord

On the porch of the church at Ocotlán I saw a teenage Indian girl sitting cross-legged with some friends, all of them in Western dress.  She leaned over to speak to the boy beside her and I saw that her profile and posture were exactly those of one of those haughty Mayan lords that we see on the old vases and in the fading plaster of an ancient wall.    

She was not Maya, of course, but almost certainly Zapotec or Mixtec, but their portayals were not as naturalistic as the Mayans.  Their portraits were more the idea of the person, while the Maya gave us more their physical presence.  For a long time scholars thought of the Maya as peaceful astronomers and philosopher-kings, though now that we can read their texts we know they were a rather more bloody lot.  I, innocent of their texts, thought they often looked like bullies.

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