10 Characteristics of Ancient Mayan art

Ancient Mayan art refers to the artistic and aesthetic manifestations developed by the ancient Mayan civilization in Mesoamerica, ranging from the Preclassical period (2000 BC) to the arrival of the Spanish conquerors in the 16th century.

Mayan art is recognized for its rich symbolism, intricate designs, technical skills and a deep connection to cosmology and Mayan spirituality.

10 outstanding features of Mayan art

Characteristics of Ancient Mayan art are:

  1. Symbolism: Mayan art is imbued with a deep symbolism that reflects the worldview and religious beliefs of this ancient civilization.
  2. Abstraction: Mayan artists used abstraction in their artistic representations, creating stylized and abstract forms of reality.
  3. Ornamental details: Mayan art is characterized by its thoroughness and attention to detail. Mayan artists developed sophisticated techniques to create complex ornamental designs and patterns.
  4. Representation of nature: The fauna, flora and elements of nature were recurring themes in Mayan art. Animals such as jaguars, snakes and birds, as well as plants and trees, were often represented.
  5. Vibrant color use: The Mayans used a wide range of colours in their artworks, using natural pigments to create vibrant and eye-catching tones.
  6. Monumental architecture: In addition to the works of art in painting and sculpture, the Mayans erected large architectural structures, such as pyramids and temples, with elaborate reliefs and decorations.
  7. Pictorial caligraphy: The Mayans developed a hieroglyphic writing system known as pictorial writing. Glyphos and inscriptions were common in architecture and artistic objects.
  8. Decorated ceramics: Mayan ceramics are characterized by its beauty and ornamentation. Mayan artists decorated their vessels with geometric motifs, images of deities and scenes of everyday life.
  9. Relief and stela: The reliefs and steles carved in stone were an important form of Mayan artistic expression. These narrative representations were used to commemorate historical events and glorify the Mayan rulers.
  10. Astronomy and calendars: Mayan art was closely linked to astronomy and time measurement. Many works of Mayan art represent astronomical and Calendaric knowledge, such as the famous Mayan calendar.


Mayan art played a fundamental role in the expression of the cultural and spiritual identity of this ancient civilization.

Through their works of art, the Mayans transmitted knowledge, religious beliefs and mythology, leaving an invaluable legacy for future generations.

In addition, Mayan art reflects the high level of development achieved by this civilization in various areas, such as architecture, sculpture, painting and ceramics.

His artistic legacy is considered one of the greatest contributions of Mayan culture to the cultural heritage of humanity, and has been the subject of study and admiration around the world.