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AntiquiTEA serves up Maya maize god's creation story

By Leslie King | Emory Report | Sept. 15, 2014

Tea and scones accompany a presentation on the maize god in the creation story of the Maya civilization on Thursday, Sept. 18, at 4 p.m. in the reception hall of the Michael C. Carlos Museum.

The Maya civilization began in approximately 2000 B.C. and extended from Mexico into northern Central America.

Jennifer Siegler, Ph.D. candidate in Emory's art history department, will discuss the maize god's role and related works of art, including an incised ceramic vessel in the museum's Art of the Americas collection.

"The imagery associated with the Maya maize god, an instrumental figure in the Maya creation story, will be discussed as it relates to the identification of the maize god on the [Carlos] vessel," Siegler says.

Siegler will expand on the imagery of this creation story according to the 16th century Popul Vuh, or Book of the People, that features stories of Mayan myths and history.

Siegler will show how the museum's maize god vessel functions as shorthand for the events of creation. "The death of the maize god at the hands of the lords of the underworld initiated a series of events that culminated in the origin of the primary staple crop maize, the substance from which mankind is wrought," she explains.

Siegler's presentation is part of the Carlos Museum's AntiquiTEA, a monthly series of afternoon talks by doctoral candidates whose expertise aligns with objects in the museum's collections.

"[AntiquiTEA] provides a wonderful opportunity for graduate students to research and give public presentations about works in the collection," says Elizabeth Hornor, Marguerite Colville Ingram Director of Education, adding that "the tea and sour cherry scones are delicious as well."