The tendency to fulfill a row of important of public utility functions including system of communication, being material wealth, displaying one’s power, and expressing religious beliefs through the art works can be well explored in the art of Mesoamerica.
This phenomenon is observed throughout centuries in different Mesoamerican cultures such as Aztecs, Olmecs, Huastecs, Maya, Totonacs, Toltecs and Zapotecs. In the following paper, the four examples of this tendency from varied Mesoamerican cultures will be explored.
Generally, it appears that during the Pre-Columbian period of history, the Mesoamerican people devoted art to the main areas of their life, and such illustrations as Calendar Stone from Aztecs’ culture, Bonampak Wall Paintings belonging to the culture of Maya, La Venta architectural center of Olmec culture and The Avenue of the Dead and its mystical pyramids belonging to an unknown Mesoamerican culture hypothetically the Aztec prove this interesting phenomenon.
First of all, speaking about the function of art as a system of communication, it should be mentioned that the Mesoamerican people in general did not have a system of communication and literacy. Only with the development of Maya culture, the alphabetic concept of literacy appeared.
As a result, the art was applied in order to communicate important messages to the contemporaries and the future generations. This can be explored on the example of Calendar Stone from Aztecs’ culture. This stone was applied as a means to inform the next generations about the sad cataclysm that the Aztecs people had to survive.
Secondly, addressing the function of art as being a sign of wealth and being wealth in itself, it is necessary to understand that the Mesoamerican people did not have any currency. Thus, art works were applied as valuable things used by people as a means of hoarding. For example, Bonampak Wall Paintings belonging to the culture of Maya were used as valuable things, and applied for sort of “financial operations”.
Further, discussing the function of art as a display of power, the example of La Venta architectural center can be mentioned. Studying this example, it appears that the Mesoamerican people used as a way to express their power, authority and position within the society.
In particular, in this center only nobles could spend their time. Thus, art was applied to identify someone’s social position as people had an access to these facilities only in case of their being “something” important in the Olmec society.
Finally, with regards to the function of expressing of religious beliefs it is interesting that the Mesoamerican people saw art as a way to access supernatural and divine things by means of art works.
To illustrate this, the example of The Avenue of the Dead and its mystical pyramids belonging to an unknown Mesoamerican culture hypothetically the Aztec one can be examined. These pyramids expressed people’s religious beliefs, and showed their concepts of the Universe and the divine around them.
Concluding on all the information related above, it should be stated that there exists a strong tendency in the art of Mesoamerica to fulfill a row of important of public utility functions including being used as a system of communication, being material wealth, displaying one’s power, and expressing religious beliefs.
In particular, such example as Calendar Stone from Aztecs’ culture, Bonampak Wall Paintings belonging to the culture of Maya, La Venta architectural center and The Avenue of the Dead and its mystical pyramids belonging to an unknown Mesoamerican culture prove this interesting tendency.