Tag Archives: Culture

Museo Nacional de Antropologia – Mexico City, Mexico

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Museo Nacional de Antropologia

(52) 55 5553 6275
Av Paseo de la Reforma S/N Esq. Calzada Ghandi,
Chapultepec Polanco, Miguel Hidalgo,
Mexico City 11560 , México

www.mna.inah.gob.mx

OPEN HOURS:
9:00 am – 7:00pm    Tuesday – Sunday

Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology opened in 1968 after careful design by Pedro Ramírez Vázquez in collaboration with Jorge Campuzano y Rafael Mijares.  So striking was the concept, that was awarded the gold medal at the 1965 São Paulo’s Architectural Bienal before a stone was turned; merely drawings and renders !

Between the parking area and the entry there is the Danza de los Voladores, where high-flyers hang from one foot and spin, descending around a 10-story pole.  Once you finish gawking at this spectacle is the massive statue of water god Tjáloc, welcoming the visitor to the museum.  The statue weights about 168 tons and was brought in from Coatlinchan, a town east of Mexico city.  Behind Tlaloc, from the subterranean parking, emerges a waterfall.  The path towards the entry is set with relaxing benches; note on the wall over the main doors is a predominant national coat of arms disc (see below).

The museum is a  two floor structure with a grand inner courtyard, inspired by the Cuadrángulo de las Monjas de Uxmal.  At the front of the courtyard is el paraguas (the umbrella), a massive structure supported by a concrete pillar in the center as water falls from around the top .  Note the top of the walls in this area for replicas of a Aztec codices (screenfold books).

On the far side, lays a large rectangular pond with clusters of long grass and Irises. You move in and out of this astounding courtyard to the surrounding anthropology rooms: Introduction to anthropology, America’s population, pre-classic, Teotihuacan, Toltecs, Mexica, Oaxaca cultures, golf cultures, Maya, western cultures and northern cultures.

The building is a modern achievement to show off the excitement of Mexican Heritage!

Museo-de-Antropologia-004National coat of arms symbolizes a scene from the legend of the foundation of Aztec/Mexica capital of Tenochtitlan, now Mexico city.

The legend states that the Mexicas set out east from coastal Aztlán, present-day Nayarit, in search of where to settle and establish their empire.  The trekked awaiting a sign from the god Huitzilopochtli telling them where to stop.

The sign they were looking for was quite specific: an eagle devouring a serpent while perched on a flowering nopal cactus  on a small island in the middle of a lake.

After a long journey, the symbol appeared in the Valley of Mexico in 1325.  The current site of Mexico DF and the seat of empire for 700 years!

For the ancient Mexicans, the eagle symbolized the cosmic force of the sun, while the earth’s force was embodied in the image of the serpent.  The eagle devouring the snake represents the communion of these vital forces. The nopal cactus being an important source of food in prehispanic times.

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TIP: If you are on a time crunch an have only one day to visit the large museum, skip the 2 first halls and jump directly in to the Teotihuacan hall on the ground floor and continue on to the following sections.  Then, if you have time at the end, visit the first two halls on the ground floor, followed by a jump to their second floor; there you can view ta sample of the etno-linguistic diversity from different corners of Mexico, and dioramas of their customs such as crafts, religion, music and rituals.  In this area, one can have a great look at some of the best examples of current Mexican handcrafts.

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statue of Chac Mool from Chichen Itza; it’s name translates from Yucatecan Maya as “paw swift like thunder”.  It is believed to represent a powerful warrior prince who had once ruled Chiche’n Itza.

 

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Museo-de-Antropologia-068Zapoteca Jaguar clay sculpture originating from Monte Albán, Oaxaca  (100 B.C- 200 A.D) High 88.50 cm
Museo-de-Antropologia--Xiuhcoatl-036Stone figure of  Xiuhcoatl the fire serpent

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The 3.5 meters high, the statue of Coatlicue is one of the more representative pieces of the museum.  It belongs to the Mexica culture, is made out of Andesite, a volcanic rock, and dates 1325-1521 A.D. Coatlicue, is the goddess of earth and mothers.

Myth tells that Coatlicue was sweeping when a white ball of feathers fell from the sky.  She picked it up and safeguarded it in her breasts.  She then became miraculously pregnant by Huitzilopochtli, the sun and war god and patron god of Mexica.  Her daughter Coyolxauhqui and the rest of her brothers, upset by the mysterious (immaculate) conception decided to kill their mother.  At the instant in which they were ready to do the deed, Huitzilopochtli was born in all his warrior attire -holding the chimalli (shield) and the xiuhcoatl (fire serpent) instrument which he used to slay his new brothers and sister.

This myth symbolizes the birth of a new sun to govern a new world.

 

Museo-de-Antropologia-081Mayan ceramic Anciano emergiendo del caracol (old man emerging from a shell), dating 600-900 A.D.  For the Mayas, shells had a very special meaning; they represented the earth, the infraworld and death.  At the same time, however, they were symbols of life and birth related to femininity and the moon goddess.

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The Mexica Piedra de Tizoc was discovered in 1791 deep in Mexico city’s main square.  It dates from 1481-1486 A.D. and measures about  a 267cm (8′-9″) in diameter.  On top of this monument, a ritual was performed in which a Mexica warrior would fight a war prisoner.  The prisoner would be given a weak weapon and the warrior would be fully armed; turning this fight into a sacrifice.

On the face of the stone you can see the carved scene of a Tizoc governor grabbing the prisoner by the head – a sign of the enemies defeat. Also note the top right corner on each frame, at that corner there is an icon of the defeated town.

Museo-de-Antropologia-016Many of the walls in the different chambers are decorated with murals replicas of of ancient frescoes, like this one of  a Teotihuacan Fresco
Museo-de-Antropologia-016bTeotihuacan Fresco detail
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Statue of Xochipilli, the Aztec god of art, games, beauty, dance, flowers, and song.  Amazingly, traces of the red pigment in which the statue was originally painted are still visible.  The Ear spools are a sign of noble status.  Psychotropic flowers are sculpted on the body.  Amongst them are the tobacco flower, used by the Aztecs to stimulate hallucinogens, morning glory – a vine with bell shaped flower – used as a visionary intoxicant to gain knowledge and. Sinicuichi, a yellow flower for memory aid.  On the knees and at the pedestal of the statue are mushroom flower motifs that represent clusters of magic mushrooms or Teonanacatl (flesh of the gods).  On the chest is the skin of a beast  and on its ankle are its claws.  Very powerful indeed!

Museo-de-Antropologia-053Aztec Macuilxochitl, god of songs, dance and music.
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Mexica andesite sculptere of a Ocelotl Cuauhxicalli (circa 1500 A.D.)  resuming: 93cm high; 105cm; depth: 227cm. long.

The cuauhxicalli were sculpted in different shapes and served as offering containers. Often holding the hearts and blood of the sacrificed captives as well as other kind of offerings to the gods.  This ocelot cuauhxicalli has a circular hole on the back decorated with the images of the gods Huitzilopochtli and Tezcatlipoca.

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A small outdoor grove with a ‘jungle temple’ for those who don’t make it out of DF 🙂

Polyforum Siqueiros Art & Performance Space – Mexico DF

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Polyforum Siqueiros

Art & Performance Space
(55) 5536-4520
Insurgentes Sur 701, esquina con Filadelfia
Colonia Napoles, Del. Benito Juarez
C.P. 03810, México, D.F.

www.polyforumsiqueiros.com

OPEN HOURS:
10:00 am – 6:00pm Daily

Like stepping into a sci-fi conference-hall, the Polyforum Siqueiros is a transporting marvel. The Suclpainting technique of David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974) creates a three-dimensional interior mural that takes over your mind – it is the largest in the world.  If we were to make a cult-movie where the leader gets all of his followers to obey – this is the space.

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(above photo foregound the creators statue of artist David Alfaro Siqueiros & benefactor Manuel Suarez y Suarez)

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The outer Mural represents the leadership, the dead and the reborn tree, the circus, Moses breaking the law stones, Jesus the leader, the dance and flee of winter and summer, the Mestizaje, the music and the atom.  Each face of the outer mural holds great philosophical symbolism related to the lectures of the forum’s inner mural

The interior space, known as the Foro Universal, is dominated by “The March of Humanity”, Siqueiros’s masterwork.  A lifelong communist and advocate for social equality, David Alfaro Siqueiros was a member of the big three of Latin Art – including himself along with Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco. The main theme of this 237.6 square meter mind-bending mural is the evolution of man to a society where justice and freedom are truly integrated concepts.

It is awe inspiring in its scale and grandeur. Construction on the Polyforum was started in 1966, after it was decided to move the mural from its original location at a hotel conference center at the Hotel Casino de la Selva in Cuernavaca.  Inaugurated in 1971, it is used today for political meetings, concerts, readings and gallery exhibitions.

The lobby area is a sleek white modern contrast that is does not quite prepare you for the onslaught of color you will find upon entering the main space. It is much more a 2001: A Space Odyssey foil to the sci-fi feel of the Foro Universal – with its white on white interiors and lines that curve.  The lobby is used as an exhibition space, as well as housing a small by design shop that features some of the best creations in Mexican contemporary jewelry, ceramics, books clothing, home objects and more.

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Poliforum_Siqueiros_022above photo “Peace, Culture & Harmony” east wall

The mural is divided in four sections:

“The March of Humanity towards the Bourgeois democratic Revolution”  on the south side, represented by multitudes advancing from darkens into a civilization of light.
“The March of Humanity towards the Future Revolution” on the north side showing the hope and obstacles in life and the difficulties in conquering victory towards a further future.
“Peace, Culture & Harmony” on the east side manifested with women’s hands
“Science & Technology”  on the west side manifested with man’s hands

Tip: On Sundays the interior platform spins – yes there is a turntable too!

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Poliforum_Siqueiros_024above photo “Science & Technology” west wall

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To celebrate the 50 years of the Mexican mural movement, David Alfaro Siqueiros created a very unique portrait mural, also known as the Barda Mural.  From Left:  Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, José Guadalupe Posada, Leopoldo MéndezGerardo Murillo

 

Poliforum_Siqueiros_016babove photo” detail of The March of Humanity towards the Bourgeois democratic Revolution”  south wall
Poliforum_Siqueiros_014babove photo detail of “The March of Humanity towards the Future Revolution”  north wall
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Dwarika’s Hotel – Kathmandu, Nepal

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Dwarika’s Hotel

(977-1) 447 9488
Batisputali Batisputali
Kathmandu, Nepal

  ww.dwarikas.com

Kathmandu, Nepal, Chaos.  There is an oasis, a few hundred square meters has been set apart from smoke and noise and pollution and poverty.  Where man-made beauty still reigns and the gardens sprawl.  Where birds can rest free and you can get an idea of what could be.

In 1934 the great Bihar earthquake -magnitude 8.1- destroyed a large portion of the buildings and houses in Kathmandu, and it has never quite recovered.  In the decades following, most locals oped for reconstruction in a more ‘modern’ concrete style.  The traditional  architecture was thought a reflection of poverty, and the intricately hand-carved door frames and windows were seen insomuch as their ability to burn.  This great purge would have seen the entire architectural heritage of this Himalayan city go up in smoke, had it not been for Dwarika Das Shrestha and his family.

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During the late 1950’s Dwarika Das Shrestha acquired the land where the majestic Dwarika’s Hotel lays today, and commenced the construction of his family home. Integrating the ancient hand-carved windows, columns, frames that he had been acquiring and collecting.  Thus starting the preservation of Nawari craft-work – the Newa are the indigenous people of Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley – and more importantly Nepal’s cultural heritage as a whole.

In 1964 Dwarika Das Shrestha (DDS), in order to fund his growing collection of traditional Newari wood carvings, added a rental apartment to his growing estate.  In the following years DDS, realizing that the technique as well as the objects themselves were becoming extinct, he hired three of the few remaining Master Newari wood carvers.  To ensure that this intricate craft would not be lost to time, he also created an apprenticeship, to confirm this important knowledge was passed on to new generations.  This heritage workshop extended beyond the woodworking, into the other ancient crafts of Nepal such as terracotta sculpture and brick-works.

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To sponsor his growing crafts passion and workshop, DDS started renting rooms at his ever expanding compound. Adding new buildings with the new and restored pieces now coming out of the workshop.  As an hotel, it grew slowly, organically and it had not yet reached its peak when DDS passed away in 1992.  His wife and daughter continued the development based on his original concept sketches. Today the Dwarika’s Hotel is still managed by the family.

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There are three different restaurants situated in the hotel: Mako: featuring Japanese cuisine. Toran: with a little of everything from Nepali bbq to sandwiches and pastas, set as a perfect outdoor lunch in the hotel’s courtyard.  And Krishnarpan, probably the best restaurant in the country and an experience untoward itself.  We recommend leaving a stay at Dwarika’s and this finest of meals for the end of your trip, ensuring you leave full of contentedness and hope.

The multi-course dinner at the Krishnarpan Restaurant begins when the traditionally adorned server brings that evenings menu, individually addressed with your name, printed on hand made paper.

First to arrive was a Samaya Bajee, an assortment of hors d’oeuvres which are usually served during religious ceremonies; representing good luck and prosperity.  Included are tender lentil patties, puffed rice, toasted soy beans, stewed tomato and salad.  After so many weeks of Dal Bat, the change is welcome and heart-warming.  Just being in the ambiance, one can feel great things ahead.

Then was Chatamari, a Nepali rice crepe filled with vegetables along with vegetable Momos (traditional Himalayan dumplings) accompanied by a sweet-spicy mango chutney.   At this time was also the serving of the traditional alcoholic Rakshi poured from a copper decanter.  While this millet based alcohol is integral to Nepalese religion and tradition, it is not enjoyable, except as a test of your inner strength; which might be what it is used for in ceremony!

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The courses kept manifesting and would need an entirely separate article to do them justice

– Gundruk Ko Jhol – a curry made from fermented mustard leaf broth with soybeans; accompanied with Sada Bhuja, steamed Himalayan rice; and Dal Jhaneko, spiced red lentils.
– Aloo Tareko,
a signature Newari Dish of fried potatoes and peppercorn
– Tarul Ra Lasun Ko Tarkari, stir fried yam with spring garlic chives
– Saag Jhaneko, sauteed spiced spinach
– Pharsee Ko Tarkari, pumpkin curry
– Golbheda Ko Achar, stued tomatoes
Lapsee Ko Achaar, plum pickles

After all of these dishes, you are in a state of near bliss, contemplating gastronomic enlightenment when arrives the mind-bending Panchamrit: a mixture of five nectars used in Hindu worship, milk, sugar, yogurt, ghee, and honey.

Dwarika Das Shresth legacy to Nepal is unequaled; and he is one of the world’s great men. Thanks to his passion for preserving Nepal’s cultural heritage, the government and other entities started restoring semi-forgotten sites along the Kathmandu valley.  Had it not been for his steadfast belief and desire to see his country regain its former glory, we would not even have know what the world had lost.

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Dwarikas Hotel Krishnarpan Restaurant
Dwarikas Hotel Krishnarpan Restaurant Samaya Bajee
Dwarikas Hotel Krishnarpan Restaurant Panchamrit
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Dwarikas Hotel Toran Restaurant
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