The name Maya is usually associated with peoples who lived in the southern Mexican states of Chiapas and Yucatan and in Guatemala approximately 2,000 years ago, and who left behind magnificent archeological sites as testimony to their intellectual and artistic view of the world and its relation to the cosmos. Reminders of a remote and mysterious past, the grandeur of these ruins often overshadows the existence of the people living today in the tropical jungles and lofty highlands where these monuments are found. Yet, these people are the Maya, descendants of the builders of Palenque, Tikal and Chichen Itza, and they are the subject of this beautifully illustrated catalogue-book which accompanies an exhibition of weavings and photographs entitled "Living Maya: The Art of Ancient Dreams," organized by the authors, Walter F. Morris, and Jeffrey Jay Foxx, and recently viewed at the Paine Webber Art Gallery in New York City.
Curator, collector and cataloguer of Maya textile collections, Morris first moved to Chiapas in 1972 and was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1983 for his study of the symbology of Maya textiles and his contribution to the creation of the Maya weaver's cooperative of Chiapas, Sna Jolobil (House of Weavings). Both he and Foxx, who has done assignments for Life and National Geographic as well as for the United Nations and the Inter-American Foundation, present a sensitive perspective of a people, whose relationship to the world is expressed in their daily life and in the creation of their crafts. Even as exploitation of the forests and of the natural environment threatens to destroy the Chiapas highlands and their way of life, the Maya continue to affirm their world through a religion rooted in pre-Columbian beliefs and influenced by Christianity.