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Dance of the Maize God


Over the past 50 years thousands of exquisitely painted Maya vases, almost all looted from royal tombs, have flooded into the world’s public and private collections. These amazing works of art have opened an extraordinary window on the Maya past. But the race to unearth these treasures has destroyed ancient temples and palaces, culminating in the takeover of entire ancient cities by looter armies.

The documentary feature film Dance of the Maize God enters the world of the vases to explore the royal life and rich mythology of the Maya, as well as the tangled issues involved in the collection and study of Maya art. The story is told by villagers, looters, archaeologists, scholars, dealers and curators. For each, these vases have a radically different value and meaning.

photo©Justin Kerr


On a purely sensual level, the film celebrates the artistry of these vases. It uses visual fascination as the doorway to intellectual and emotional engagement. Dramatic re-enactments and animated graphics created from ancient artwork bring to life Maya history and culture.

Dance of the Maize God was produced with major funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and will be completed in January 2014.


photo©Justin Kerr