The Mayan civilization was one of the greatest in the Americas. The Mayan were skilled artists, mathematicians, architects, farmers and astronomers. They built large cities that included monumental pyramids. Mayan civilization started declining around 900 A.D. as a result of warfare, drought, disease and overpopulation. Mayans today carry on many crafts from ancient times.
Painted Gourd Bowls
Indigenous hard-shelled gourds were important to the Maya, especially as containers, such as pots and bowls. The dried gourds were carved, etched or painted. Children and adults can create painted Mayan gourd bowls. Draw a line around a tall gourd about one third of the way up from the bottom. Cut the gourd along the line, using a jigsaw or band saw. Scrape out the pulp and seeds and let dry. Paint the inside of the bowl red and the outside black or light blue with a red rim. Paint geometric, flower or animal designs in circular patterns around the inside and outside of the bowl.
The ancient Maya made beautiful mosaic masks from stone, wood, gold, obsidian and shell. Both children and adults can make mosaic masks in the ancient Mayan style. Start by looking at pictures of mosaics and masks. Adults and older children can use the pictures as inspiration for creating paper mache masks. Children can draw and cut out a mask shape, such as a jaguar face, from cardboard. Use beads as mosaic “tiles” for adults and older children and colorful paper for younger children’s mosaics.