SONG OF THE QUAIL: The Wondrous World of the Maya by Ruth Karen

SONG OF THE QUAIL: The Wondrous World of the Maya

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The author of the solid contemporary survey Hello, Guatemala! successfully depicts the ancient Maya as a gracious, artistic and sensitive people. The first (and longer) of the book's two sections examines the Mayan way of life in so far as it can be reconstructed from existing artifacts, ruins, and the heritage of such surviving descendants as the Lacondon Indians. Serious and discriminating observations on the Mayan concept of beauty, on their religion (its less attractive aspects such as human sacrifice are attributed to Toltec influence), and on their city-state form of government are matched by striking details -- such as the use of a brittle gourd filled with wasps as a formidable weapon or the employment of cocoa beans as a medium of exchange. The two fictionalized vignettes which constitute Part II are equally well wrought; however, their rich, restrained recreation of the lives of a Mayan boy and girl -- Itzamna and Kukul -- hardly seems aimed at the reader who could tackle the more demanding first section. The photographs and format are excellent -- and while Part II could stand on its own as a story for younger children -- students will find a broad, factual treatment vitalized by the author's obvious attachment to her subject.

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 1972
Publisher: Four Winds