Martine M. Fettweis-ViénotThe lessons of Maya art

Published in 1984clockTime to read: 45s
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Belgian archaeologist and art historian Martine Fettweis-Viénot has made painstaking copies of ancient murals from Mexico and Guatemala, leading her to new theories about their role in Maya society.

locationGuatemala

The Maya people of Central America had one of the most developed Indian civilizations before the Spanish conquest, with remarkable achievements in mathematics, astronomy, agriculture and art.

Maya imagery operates like a system of writing in which each detail has its own significance.

Martine Fettweis-Viénot began studying Maya murals in 1975. When she realized that a large majority of them had never been adequately studied and catalogued, she compiled a database covering 236 paintings from 95 sites in the region, 54 of which she has personally explored, in order to record them before they are ruined. The artwork, spanning eight centuries and showing animals and scenes of life, has resulted in a published catalogue. “Maya imagery operates like a system of writing in which each detail has its own significance,” says Fettweiss-Viénot, whose research brought forth new insights on the paintings’ meaning and role in Maya society.

  • 236

    Paintings in Martine Fettweis-Viénot’s database

  • 54

    Sites she personally explored

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