The Influence of Mayan Culture in Contemporary Graphic Design

During my daily wondering throughout hundreds of websites, artist profiles and so on, I noticed that there are quite a few contemporary artworks that clearly have a Mayan influence – intended or not. So I thought to “put it on paper”! In the following rows you will find out some interesting stuff about this fascinating culture and I will also show you a couple of great contemporary artworks that were inspired by it. So here it goes.

The Mayan Civilization

Mayan civilization is one of the oldest known, being considered one of the original cultures of the New World, being around for about 3,000 years. The Mayans lived on the Yucatan Peninsula in the eastern part of Mesoamerica and was considered to be, at its peak, one of the most densely populated and culturally dynamic societies in the whole wide world. The Mayans are known for their amazing art, spectacular architecture and let’s not forget their sophisticated mathematical and astronomical systems  – which, by the way, were way ahead of their times.

ADVERTISMENT:
The Best Deals For Digital Design Assets - InkyDeals.com. Learn More>>

Image source

Mayan Architecture

The Mayan architectures spans a couple thousands of years. Some of the most dramatic and easy to recognize are the amazing stepped pyramids in places like Coba and Chichen Itza. The last place was actually named one of the seven wonders of the world and more than that, it was a UNESCO World Heritage Site for 20 years.

Image source

The Mayan Calendar

Although it wasn’t the first Mesoamerican calendar, the Mayan calendar knows a few refinements, making it the most sophisticated. Along with the Aztec calendar, the Mayan calendar, these two are the best documented and most completely understood Mesoamerican calendars.

Image source

Mayan Scripture and Mayan Art

If you didn’t knew, the Mayan scripture was the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas. The Mayan art is considered by a lot of people one of the most beautiful and sophisticated art of the ancient New World.

Image source

Mayan Tree of Life

I bet this is something you didn’t know: the Mayans were the first who recognize the four primary compass directions! Each direction was associated with a color: North with white, South with yellow, East with red and West with black. The center, or the “fifth direction” was a blue-green color – which represented a great ceiba tree known today as the Mayan tree of life. This tree was the connection between the center of the Earth, the underworld and heaven.

Image source

Mayan Gods

In the Mayan religion there are thirteen heavens with thirteen Mayan gods and there are also nine gods from their nine underworlds. Natural elements like planets and stars, days and periods of time each had their own gods. The mood if a Mayan god changed depending to the day of the Mayan calendar or the positioning of the sun, stars and moon. As an example, some of the most notable gods are Ixchel – jaguar goddess of midwifery, Chaac – God of Rain and Thunder and Ah Puch – God of death.

Image source

In our days, the Mayan civilization and their descendents created sizable populations along the Mayan area also known as the Mundo Maya and keep a distinctive set of traditions and beliefs. Today, there are over 500 Mayan languages that continue to be spoken.

Mayan influence in today’s graphic design

The Mayans thought that 2012 represents the end of the world, I think we just have to wait and see if they were right, everything seems ok until now. With this prophecy in mind, a lot of artists added this idea to their work, creating illustrations and type treatments that incorporated the Mayan symbols in a creative way.

Here is what artist Gabriel Martinez Muave says about this subject: “Everybody is talking about the Mayan Prophecies, that supposedly predict the end of the world by 2012. But very few people actually know where they are written, if they are written, or where these claims come from. As it happens, the only place where we can find something similar to an actual Maya date for the «end of the world» is the Tortuguero stela, found in Tabasco, México, some years ago. According to the Long Count calendar –just one of the ways the Maya used to measure time and eras– the glyphs in this stela do state the date of December 23rd, 2012. However, they do not talk specifically about the Apocalypse or the end of times, but about a prognosticated «descent of nine dark gods».”

Mayan Prophecy Glyphs

Based on the Tortuguero stela for the cover of an upcoming book, by Gabriel Martínez Meave

In the artworks below you will recognize the colors, the use of green, orange and the Maya blue, the symbols, the masks, the totem-like characters, the Mayan calendar and many more features of the Mayan Culture and art.

Image source

Image source

Image source

Image source

Image source

Image source

Image source

Image source

Image source

Image source

Image source

Image source

Image source

Image source

 

Image source

Image source

Image source

Image source

This great ancient and advanced civilization of South America, the Mayans – considered experts in astronomy – predicted the end of the great cycle of ages in 2012.

 What do you think? Will this year be the end of the world as we know it? Also, let us know if you like the Mayan art and these contemporary Mayan influenced graphic artworks :)

While you are here, check out the bundle we are having at Inkydeals.com. We’ve made a bundle of vector packs, PS goodies, textures, t-shirt designs and more – over $500 worth of goodies – which you can get only for a week at the low price of $29.

(Visited 13,054 time, 1 visit today)

13 Comments The Influence of Mayan Culture in Contemporary Graphic Design

  1. Pingback: The Influence of Maya Culture in Contemporary Graphic Design

  2. Fajar Jan 20, 2012 at 02:49

    Hello there. Just want to do some correction. The 8th through 11st images were not Mayans. It is Balinese Barong from Bali, Indonesia.

    Please do some correction there.

    Thanks and cheers everybody. (=_=)v

    Reply
    1. Adriana Jan 20, 2012 at 11:10

      Hey Fajar, thank you for the heads up :)
      Cheers

      Reply
  3. Pingback: The Influence of Maya Culture in Contemporary Graphic Design | Design News

  4. Sam Anderson Jan 23, 2012 at 12:13

    Outstanding innovative collection of Mayan’s. Great to see their culture which moves me to get a new topic for my thesis. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Adriana Jan 25, 2012 at 12:58

      I’m glad that my article inspires you, Sam, good luck with your thesis :)

      Reply
  5. Pingback: Influencia de la cultura maya en el diseño | infoGráfica

  6. GONZA Sep 29, 2012 at 10:12

    Thanks ri. So many people make this mistake. it’s good to see others spotting it.
    I’m currently working on some mayan inspired works that will be available Dec 14th
    wonderwhatif.com

    Reply
  7. Geoffrey Ellis Aronson Nov 11, 2015 at 09:33

    I am doing a magazine article on the influence of prehistoric Mayan art on contemporary artists living in Maya lands currently. please contact me and we can help each other with info.

    Reply
    1. Geraldina Wise Jun 27, 2018 at 10:10

      Hello Geoffrey, my instagram is @wise_arts any chance you could DM me? I’m interested in being in the conversation about the influence of Maya patrimony on those of us that have Maya blood and doing contemporary art. I’m in Houston, orig from El Salvador

      Reply
  8. tiana Jan 9, 2016 at 23:04

    i think this is great!

    Reply
    1. Claudia Feb 10, 2016 at 12:22

      Thanks for the feedback, Tiana! Really appreciate it :)

      Reply

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.