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Vintage Original Mayan Art Painting by Artist E Canul on Bark Paper - $55 (Mesilla)

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We are a retired couple now in our early 80s who have been collecting Folk Art, Devotional Art, ethnographic objects, antiques, etc. for over 60 years. We recently sold our large retirement home and have moved into much smaller accommodations. Not surprisingly, we find ourselves with the need to do some major downsizing. Too much stuff! Time for us to help some of our objects find a new Happy Home.

We are the original owners of this original painting by the Mexican-Mayan artist Eliezere E. Canul. We purchased the painting in 1973 at a shop in Merida while on vacation in the Mexican state of Yucatan.

After that vacation we never framed or displayed this painting. Just couldn’t find a spot for it on our walls and it has been sitting rolled up in a tube on a closet shelf for over 50 years.

The painting is 18 inches wide and 25 inches high.

Eliezere E. Canul is a well known and well regarded Mexican-Mayan artist. Examples of his work show up for sale on eBay and other online sites. That said this painting is an unusual example of his work for two reasons. First, this example is a one-of-a-kind original painting whereas most of his work is in the form of woodblock prints of which there are multiple copies. Second, this work is on bark paper. As expected, given that his preferred medium is woodblock prints, most of Canul’s work is done on paper. This painting is the only example of his work on bark paper that that I know of.

A word on bark paper (Papel Amate): Typically the paper is crafted from the bark of fig or mulberry trees. It is known that the Mayans have made bark paper since the early days of their civilization. It is also known that bark paper had certain important symbolic uses. One of those important symbolic uses plays a key part in the ‘reading’ of the scene depicted in the painting. More on that below.

Two comments on the condition of this painting: First, there are a number of small pin holes along the edges of the painting. These pinholes were there when we purchased the painting. The painting was pinned to a display wall in the shop where we purchased it. These pinholes do not show when the painting is framed. (Please see the photos.) Second, the surface and consistency of the bark paper is very uneven. There are significant variations in the color, texture and thickness of the paper. This is in the nature of bark paper and is not a defect of the painting. (Again please see the photos.)

Our home is smoke-free and pet-free.

The artist Canul frequently often based his work on scenes from Mayan works of art from the Classic period (250 – 900 C. E.). I have been able to identify the object that was the inspiration for this painting. That object is Lintel 16 from the ruins of Yaxchilan, a major Mayan complex on the banks of the Usumacinta River, in Chiapas, Mexico. Yaxchilan was major Mayan complex. A number of its buildings stand to this day. Many of the exteriors had elaborate decorations, but it is the carved stone lintels above the doorways which have made this site famous. Before lintel 16 was removed, it spanned the central doorway of a royal mansion of the great Yaxchilan-king Bird Jaguar IV. This lintel is precisely dated: February 5, 752. The lintel is now in the collection of the British Museum, London.

post id: 7754169926

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