The origins of this civilization may be traced to thousands of years ago and it came to an end by the Spanish conquest. Areas of concentration were Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Yucatán in addition to the countries of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Coming to Maya sculpture, sculptures were mainly made out of wood, stucco, and jade. They were experts in carving relieves and steles by using wood and stucco painted in bright colors. Among all the sculptures, stela form of sculpture deserved mention. These were large stone slabs covered with carvings, depicting the rulers of the cities where they located. It also contained hieroglyphic texts. These texts are vital to trace the history and time period of Maya sites
. The greatest stela is the E Stele of Quiriguá, weighting 65 tons and measuring 10.5 meters in height.
Ancient Maya Sculptures
The next group of stone carvings covered the doors and walls of buildings. Not many of them survive today. A third group is constituted by altars, rounded or rectangular. Among the wooden sculptures, wooden lintels from some of the main Tikal temples remain one of the few remaining examples.
The Maya used a great deal of jade in their art. There were stone carvings that had jade inlays. The expertise of making such objects from jade when they had no metal tools was astonishing for the historians. They managed to sculpt impressive detail into such a dense and thick material. An important one is the mortuary mask of Palenque's governor, a life-size mask created to be placed over his dead body, it had "skin" made of jade and "eyes" made of mother-of-peal and obsidian.
Stucco sculpture was a unique feature of Mesoamerica. The lofty stucco heads of Palenque rulers and portraits of dignitaries from Tonina are remarkable.
Famous Chac Mool Structure
The symbols which were used in Maya sculpture were complex and complicated. The form most commonly recognized today as belonging to the Maya era is Chac Mool, a reclining man, looking sideways, with his legs folded and holding a plate on his stomach, probably for placing offerings.
Statue of ancient Mayan warrior
The eagle was a scared animal. It was often portrayed with a heart in its claws, referring to human sacrifice. Rattlesnakes symbolized blood and water and flowers were meant to indicate fertility and sexuality. Chaac, god of rain, was represented with an open mouth, showing sharp teeth.
Maya sculptures are esteemed worldwide today, for its marvelous skill in various international museums.