Guatemala City, Sept 15 (AP/UNB) — An altar found at Guatemala's La Corona site suggests the Mayan dynasty of Kaanul, known as the Snake Kings, acted like its namesake in slowly squeezing the rival kingdom of Tikal, archaeologists said Friday.
A team led by Marcello Canuto of Tulane University uncovered the carved stone altar in the northern Peten region near the Mexico border.
When it was first found in 2017, the altar was encased in the roots of a tree in a collapsed temple. It took a year to painstaking pry the massive stone slab from the roots, fully excavate it and move it to Guatemala City, where it was presented this week at a museum.
The altar is dated A.D. 544 and depicts the Tikal ruler Chak Took Ich'aak conjuring two local gods from a shaft in the form of a snake.
The same man appears 20 years later as a vassal of the Kaanul dynasty and the ruler of the larger, nearby city of Peru-Waka. But the gods associated with him are different local deities associated with that place.
Canuto said the altar suggest Kaanul's eventual victory was the result of decades of astute politicking and cultural appropriation, not just battles.
Chak Took Ich'aak and his son "are trying to show that they are praying or conjuring up gods that were there way earlier to give them that kind of legitimacy," Canuto said. "It's almost like they're setting up franchises, but using the same recipes of local gods, claiming they had access to local deities. There's an attempt to render this whole process legitimate by appealing to local interests."
A princess from the Kaanul dynasty — based in Dzibanche and later Calakmul, in neighboring Mexico — had been married into the La Corona ruling family two decades before.
It's unlikely that La Corona could have simply conquered El Peru, which was much more powerful, unless it had backing from someone even more powerful.
"This would be equivalent to Cuba defeating the United States in a war. They could only have done that ... if they had had the backing of the Soviet Union," Canuto said.
The enormous city-state of Tikal, whose towering temples still stand in the jungle, battled for centuries for dominance of the Maya world with the Kaanul dynasty. Just a few decades after the altar was carved, Kaanul apparently defeated Tikal by amassing a string of allied cities that encircled and eventually strangled Tikal. The symbol of the Kaanul dynasty were stone masks carved in the form of grinning snakes.
Francisco Estrada-Belli, a Tulane University archaeologist who was not involved in the La Corona discovery, said: "Its broader significance is that it shows the behind-the-scenes ... machinations of the Snake Kings as they are expanding their empire in the direction of Tikal."
"Not long ago, we thought the victory over Tikal was the result of a sort of out-of-the-blue blitz," Estrada-Belli said. "It is fascinating to learn more about how Maya empires expanded, just like in the 'Game of Thrones.'"
Tomas Barrientos, an archaeologist at the University of the Valley of Guatemala noted that "for several centuries during the Classic period, the Kaanul kings dominated much of the Maya Lowlands," until the Maya civilization collapsed for reasons that still aren't clear.
"This altar contains information about their early strategies of expansion," Barrientos said.
Lima, Sep 11 (AP/UNB) — Peru is celebrating the return of an ancient funeral mask made of gold following a two-decade legal battle to repatriate the smuggled antiquity from Germany.
President Martin Vizcarra on Monday attended a ceremony at the presidential palace where the so-called Sican mask was shown publicly for the first time since its return to the South American nation.
The 8th century mask depicting a pre-Incan deity was seized in 1999 in Germany from a Turkish art dealer arrested for selling looted objects. It was handed over last week to Peru's embassy in Berlin.
The mask made of hammered gold alloy with silver eyes is one of the most emblematic of 9,000 art objects Peru has repatriated the last decade.
Authorities believe the mask was taken from Peru in the late 1990s.
Dhaka, Sept 9 (UNB) - Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre (IGCC) will host an evening of Nazrul Sangeet, Rabindra Sangeet and modern songs by Debolina Sur on Monday evening at Kabi Sufia Kamal auditorium of Bangladesh National Museum in the city.
Debolina Sur belongs to a wonderful cultural family background and this leads her going forward with music.
As a child artist she achieved so many awards and National awards too “Natun Kuri” is one of them.
She went to Visva Bharati University of Shantiniketan and there she completed her Modern Music (Honors) with Rabindra Sangeet.
She achieved first class there. She had a great opportunity to learn music personally from Swastika Mukherjee, Gora Sarbadhikari, Vasabi Mukherjee.
Entry for the event is open to all and there is no need to collect invitation pass, said a press release.
New York, Sept 8 (AP/UNB) — John Lennon's iconic round glasses and shaggy 1970s mane will now adorn a U.S. stamp.
Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, and their son, Sean Lennon, were in New York City's Central Park Friday to celebrate the U.S. Postal Service's release of a stamp honoring the late Beatle. Hundreds of Beatles fans gathered for the event.
"I know that my father would have been really thrilled to be accepted, officially in this way, on a stamp," said Sean Lennon. "About as official as it gets, I think."
The commemorative stamp features a photo of Lennon taken in 1974 on the roof of his Manhattan apartment building by photographer Bob Gruen, who also spoke at the event. The stamp is designed to look like a 45-rpm record sleeve.
"Everybody loves to listen to John's songs and I'm very proud of it, but also the fact that this day, Imagine and you guys are here. It's incredible," Yoko Ono said.
She also joked about the blame she gets for breaking up the Beatles.
"If John just went with me and then he began, 'La La La, Da Da Da' or something like that, people say, 'Well, that's Yoko's fault,'" she said. "Well, it's always my fault."
The crowd received her warmly though, giving her a standing ovation.
"I always knew how much he loved her," said Donna Gallucci who came from Pennsylvania for the event. "A lot of people didn't understand that."
After the event, people lined up to buy the stamps and enjoy one more day of Beatlemania in New York City.
Gallucci said, "He was so much a part of the city, so much a part of the park."
Dhaka, Sept 7 (UNB) – Mrinmoy Bangla, a group art exhibition of four young artists featuring a rich collection of water colour paintings depicting the beauty and nature of Bangladesh, kicked off at the Mohakhali DOHS chapter of Gallery Cosmos on Friday.
Thai Ambassador to Bangladesh Panpimon Suwannapongse inaugurated the exhibition as the chief guest.
Addressing the occasion, the Thai envoy appreciated the artworks of the young artists.
A total of 45 artworks of the four artists -- Juton Chandra Roy, Suman Kumar Sarkar, Kamruzzoha and Maneek Bonik, who mainly work with water colour to portray the natural landscape beauty of Bangladesh, have been put on display at the 15-day long show.
"We, the four participating artists, work on landscape of both urban and rural beauty of the country," said Juton Chandra Roy.
The artists in their works tried to bring out the culture, lifestyle and natural beauty of different regions of the country, he added.
Gallery Cosmos Chairman Enayetullah Khan said an affinity with nature remains one of the mainstays of Bangladeshi artistic inspiration.
Depicting nature in water colour is perhaps the most quintessential form of art from Bangladesh, he said, adding that through such exhibition, Gallery Cosmos looks to shine a light on the present generation artists' engagement with nature.
In the presence of Panpimon Suwannapongse, who is also an artist, Khan also talked about possible initiatives which can be taken as part of the cultural exchange between Bangladesh and Thailand.
Suman Kumar Sarkar, another participating artist, said the arrangement of such an exhibition encourages the young artists greatly.
Gallery Cosmos Director Tehmina Enayet said Bangla word 'mrinmoy' means something out of clay and the four young artists painted the artworks out of their passion and thought for the nature, making the works exceptional.
Talking about the artworks, prominent artist Kalidas Karmakar said water colour has developed a unique style in Bangladesh over time. But to promote Bangladeshi art and nature on the world stage, the style needs to be upgraded, he said.
Mentioning that water colour mainly belongs to the Asian region, especially the subcontinent, he also urged the young generation artists to experiment more and go one step ahead for more advanced and contemporary ways to bring out the nature of Bangladesh through water colour.
The exhibition will remain open from 12pm to 8pm every day until September 27.