In commemoration of Belize's 25th Independence Anniversary, the Museum of
Belize has mounted a new exhibit. Entitled the Jades of Belize Exhibition, it
features jade artifacts collected from Mayan sites across the country over decades
of exploration. Of course, the Jade Head is there, but so are other less known,
very brilliant pieces. We found out more at today's opening.
Alfonso Noble Reporting,
Prime Minister Said Musa along with Executive Director of SATIIM Greg Choc cut
the ribbon declaring the 8th exhibit at the Museum of Belize opened. It's called
the Jades of Belize and it's the first time such a sprawling collection of these
precious stones has been put together in a single display.
Hon. Mark Espat, Minister of Culture
"If diamonds are forever then we are here to celebrate the infinity
Dr. Jaime Awe, Dir. Of Archaeology
"Jade was one of the most precious stones to the ancient Mayas and to
a lot of the cultures across the rope. Its green color reflects substances such
as corn, water, and the green ceiba tree that's stands at the center of the
Mayan universe. It actually brings together many of the beautiful and exquisite
prehistoric masterpieces that were discovered at sites across Belize. As Lita
pointed out, it includes the famous Jade Head, still the largest single piece
of Jade ever discovered in the Maya World. The exhibit also includes beautiful
masks form Caracol, Santa Rita, Cahal Pech; jewelry from Lamanai, and countless
other objects from some of the more archaeological sites. This exhibition, I
believe, is truly a celebration of our past cultural achievements and thus it
is fitting display to honor this, our 25th year of independence."
It's a fitting display honoring independence as Belize's 'crown jewel' the
Jade Head which was prominently featured. This along with a treasure trove of
jade artifacts including necklaces, effigies, and even masks form part of the
collection. Minister of Culture Mark Espat explained the cultural value of this
precious green stone.
Hon. Mark Espat,
"Four thousand years after jade first gained value, its distinct green
color still represents our closeness to mother earth. Green is a label for sustainability,
for longevity; the color and the word representing everything from the movements,
the environmental movement to save the earth from self-destruction to a brand
of travel and tourism. Belize and Belizeans are proud to inherit this symbol
of enduring strength, these manifestations of the creativity and spirituality
of our Mayan ancestors."
And while there was public lauding of the Mayan ancestors and their skill and
ability to create exquisite, almost eternal pieces of art that now form part
of the national patrimony, SATIIM's Director Greg Choc says we can't forget
the living Maya.
Greg Choc, SATIIM
"We are seldom asked to participate in activities that showcase our
rich cultural heritage, whether it be the women of a Maya City or displaying
our ancestor's technology, writing, etc. Today is really significant because
we have come to celebrate and receive the spirit of Kinich Ahau. There is nothing
wrong with knowing how our ancestors built their world renowned cities that
have enriched the landscape of Belize...we have learnt much from the scholars
who continue to unravel the mysteries of our ancestors but these scholars' works
have not contributed much to changing our realities. I ask you not to forget
the realities of the thousands of Mopan and Ketchi Mayas who are fighting for
their social and political survival. We also want an equal share of the opportunities
that some Belizeans have taken for granted. Opportunities for equal education
and good basic health to name a few. We are the faces of the living Maya and
we are part of Belize's multicultural, multilingual society. Our culture is
as fascinating as that of our ancestors. It is a culture that needs to be safeguarded,
not only for the Mayas but for all of Belize."
But while Choc lamented his people's economic and social standing in Belizean
society, Prime Minister Said Musa deflected his criticism.
Rt. Hon. Said Musa,
"The Maya Belizean has been virtually fully integrated into Belizean
society. It is not like in the colonial times. Today a Mayan Belizean is like
another Belizean. They live any part of Belize, many of them hold high posts
in government, in the private sector. Yes they do have a long way to go in terms
of upgrading, we need to upgrade the standard of living of all our people who
live in poverty and not all the Maya do. I think it is important to understand
that and in fact our government has been working very hard to deal with the
disadvantaged areas of our country, not just south side Belize City but indeed
the Toledo District. A lot of investment has been made in the Toledo District."
And while inequality may be the crime of our age, these timeless treasures
today eclipsed that dispute with their brilliance.
The exhibit will be open throughout the September celebrations.