PLATE WITH THE MAIZE GOD. Uaxactun, Guatemala. Late Classic Period
This large plate depicts a startlingly modernist caricature of the Maize God dancing. The exaggerated shape and color silhouette remind me of 20th century cartoons by Ronald Searle, Gerald Scarfe and T. Hee. Or George Lichty, in the figure’s loose, disconnected lines and minimal brush strokes. There is wonderful spontaneity in the elegant figure’s expression of movement. Undulating lines in the god’s hairpiece suggest wind passing through corn stalk tassels and rounded kernels. Five panels flaring out from a protective belt, used by Mayan ballgame players, seem to be settling, indicating the fertility dance (or a movement within it) may have stopped abruptly. The god’s left arm strikes a strong pose with fingers outstretched, perhaps graphically expressing a fast upward gesture. Film animators often use similar “drag” or “smear” drawings when a character moves quickly from one main pose to another. Click image to enlarge.

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