Apr 29, 2017

Historic to Pre-Historic or Villa to Museum in Lovely Mérida

There are people who have money
and people who are rich.

Coco Chanel

Peacock or ‘Pavo Real' (Royal Turkey in Spanish).  Backyard strut…
As perhaps the longest inhabited cities in the Americas, and formally called T’ho (Place of five hills or temples) by the Mayas, Mérida boasts a lot of history.  At its peak, and for a brief moment thanks to sisal, Mérida had more millionaires than any other city in the world! 

Many gorgeous haciendas / villas from that iconic era are here to explore and appreciate. (for more info see previous post on Mérida)

Street view of La Quinta Montes Molina and its garden
La Quinta Montes Molina was previously known as Villa Beatriz and was built by a prosperous Cuban businessman around 1902.  Due to political instability in Mexico it became advisable for him to move his family back to Cuba.  He sold the Villa in 1915 to the current Montes Molina family. 

The villa is furnished with Art Deco, Murano crystal lamps, Baccarat crystal chandeliers, Tiffany glass doors, Carrara marble floors, Chinese vases, Japanese tea sets, Limoges chinaware, rosewood Steinway piano, fine wood furniture from Europe and China, and paintings from famous New York artists.  Even with all this grandeur, Doña Maria Molina slept in a hammock.  Four Montes Molina generations lived or still live here.  The last survivor of the family, Josefina, comes to visit about four times a year and sleeps in one of the rooms when she’s in town, a living museum…  She decided to open her home to visitors in 2003. 

To keep this residence open to the public and in good condition, Josefina had to turn the Villa with its beautiful garden into an event center, museum and gift shop.  Weddings, receptions, parties, cultural events, business meetings, photo sessions, can take place here.  A huge covered area has been created in the backyard to accommodate large groups to enjoy this stunning place. 

Cane room
Various canes hung in corner, one doubling as a firearm.
Furniture is made of rattan aka cane.
Notice the beautiful pasta tiles
Library ceiling
Angels, swans, children, men, women, lyres, wreaths, etc.
Most attractive ceiling in this villa
Dining room
Tiffany glass doors. Tea sets from all over the world
Food was brought up from the basement kitchen via a food elevator
Hallway - beautiful glasswork
Winter or summer furniture were brought from the basement depending upon the season. 
Men used to play cards at the entrance with the doors open to let the cool evening breeze come in. 
Hallway doors, Carrara marble floor
 In the days, it only reached about 35C (95F) in the summer, now 42C (108F).
 There was no need then for fans or air conditioning, the breeze would do.
Details of molding around the villa
We also visited the famous Gran Museo Del Mundo Maya which had a lot of information to help us better understand the ruins we would soon visit. 

Unique structure of the Gran Museo Del Mundo Maya in Mérida. 
Light shows are presented on the white walls at dark.
Anthropomorphic sculpture known as Atlantean.
They support benches in temples of Chichén Itza. 
They represent deities who hold up the skies
Another version of an Atlantean
Ek Balam, Yucatán, sculptures
Ball game hoop, Oxkintok, Yucatán. 
We see ball courts in every ruins but most hoops are in museums.
Corn God.  Young man with stylized corncob,
quetzal plumes and jade ornaments using Maya blue. 
Incense burner from Mayapán, Yucatán. 
The famous Chac Mool 'Red Claw'
 Associated with Chichén Itza even though it is found all around Mesoamerica.
 Reclining individual, raised on his elbows, with bent knees,
hands resting on his belly, forming a flat surface on which to place offerings.
As mentioned in many previous posts.  Henequén or sisal products
San Sebastian arrows together with the wounded San Roque
were invoked during the Colony to avoid the spread of diseases
like smallpox, chickenpox, or yellow fever for which indigenous had no antibodies.
Maya rebels were organized around sanctuaries
where crosses and virgins served to unite groups. 
Green crosses are reminiscent of the sacred ceiba (kapok) tree. 
Many are covered with shroud or huipil (local dress / shirt).
The green cross was a representation of the veneration
of the cosmic axis at the center of the four corners of the world,
not exactly what the Christian friars had in mind. 
The same way that for the Navajo, the cross represented a dragonfly,
not what the Christians intended.
Anthony of Padua once protected animals
Now he secures marriages.
Mayas managed to maintain their complex cyclical worldview through Christian symbols.
 Found above a holy water font from Mérida is this drawing of Chilam Balam of Ixil. 
Chilam Balam are hand written books that preserve knowledge where Spanish and Maya traditions coalesced. 
These nine books were written in Maya language but in the Latin alphabet.  Chilam = priest, Balam = Jaguar 
This probably represents astrology
Piece of one of the burned-up codices by friars. 
Colossal loss to Maya culture.
Women in the park, 1986 by Francisco Zúñiga
Feathered Serpent - Celestial deity Kukultán.  Chichén Itza
Importance of nature in Maya culture,
this ½ reptile, ½ bird complex deity is linked to crops, sun, rain, and sky.
Renowned jade jewelry.  As strong as steel, as rare as diamonds.
Mayas used caves, cenotes, temples to venerate their deities and ancestors. 
Fundamental part of the ritual was placing offerings
 and burning copal incense in clay recipients like this one. 
From Balankanché, Yucatán
Maya Almanac with predictions for each day. 
Helped determine days propitious to hunting, beekeeping, weaving,
agriculture and rituals to attract rain.
Visiting this museum reminded us how much there is yet to discover about the Mayas and the Mayab (their territory / land). 

A couple items of interest brought up during our tour of the museum:

  • Warbling of more bird species than those in all of Europe fills the air in this very complex habitat of jungle, swamps, marshes, savannah, and rocky soil.
  • Today 60% of Mayas live in cities and work primarily in maquiladoras, a few are white collars, artists, or intellectuals.  The remainder still live very close to the earth and its many gifts.  They by no means have disappeared, only adapting like most of us.
One of the roundabouts in Mérida – Monument to the Flag or to the Homeland
Close-up by Travel Mexico (since it had scaffolding when we were there)

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