Reviews

Feb 28
2019

Maya Gods & Monsters By Carol Karasik

- Back

Lidar image technology and a series of National Geographic specials have introduced a growing number of people to the Mayan civilization, and this book will introduce even more to the worldview and the mystical realm, reflecting the heart of the Mayan people. Through captivating stories and exotic illustrations, this book draws on ancient myths and lore of the Maya people and gives life to their quirky Gods. Michael Coe, one of the most respected anthropologists and authors of the Maya, says, “Inspired by myths, stories and images from over two thousand years of Maya civilization and religious beliefs, Carol Karasik has given a highly readable and lively vision of the supernatural world of these remarkable people.” The author provides an idea on why the Maya have so many ceremonies to communicate with the underworld, “All these stories have many versions. All these gods have many faces. Maya gods and goddesses live in a private world. They seldom interfere in the great and small affairs of humanity. They created human beings who would praise them, this is all. When they are not summoned through offerings and prayers, they keep to themselves…” One of the symbols of the Maya is represented in the story of “The Water Lily Jaguar,” “Water Lily Jaguar swims in the silver rivers of the rainforest. Water Lily Jaguar swims in the silver pool of the moon….” This is just one of fifteen stories that blend the natural and the supernatural and introduce us to Mayan creation myths from centuries ago. The book includes a brief history of the Maya, a map of Mesoamerica, a glossary and a revealing “The Story of the Book,” which explains the importance of the “Popol Vuh,” often called the “Maya Bible” because, as the author explains, “mainly because the Hero Twins’ selflessness and sacrifice offer moral lessons to live by. The defeat of death is the theme of all religions. Readers don’t have to believe in many creations to understand the cycle of life, death, and rebirth that is at the heart of the Maya philosophy…” The dreamy figures depicted by Alfonso Huerta help spur one’s imagination while being true to the colorful characters from the Mesoamerican mythical tradition. Huerta is a native of Mazatlan, Sinoloa, Mexico and provides a unique artistic perspective, which blends an awareness of the beauty of everyday objects with a surrealism and lush tropical colors. Author Carol Karasik weaves together wise retellings of ancient stories based on the latest explorations of hieroglyphic texts and iconography, along with a profound understanding of the oral and written literary tradition of the Maya. She published a variety of books on Maya culture such as the award winning “Mayan Threads: A Woven History of Chiapas.” The author is a poet, writer, and editor who has worked on books and films in the fields of anthropology, art, ecology, and educational philosophy. She lives in Chiapas, Mexico. Ms. Karasik continues to introduce audiences to the cosmic vision of the ancient and modern Maya.

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