November 15, 2015

Beading Back In Time: The Final Reveal

Beaded fringe with feathers and jaguar.

It's time!!  Well, actually it's past time, but we agreed we all needed a bit longer to work on our projects for this final Beading Back in Time blog hop reveal, so... It's time!  The challenge this round was to create a piece based on a favorite historical period from 500 AD to present.  As with the other challenges in the series, the hop hosts are me and my pal, Lindsay Starr of Phantasm Creations.  

Easter Island Guy by Dreams and Elements

I had every intention of making a piece with this awesome Easter Island guy from Anastasia  at Dreams and Elements.  If you're not familiar with her work, you need to go check it out. I've worked with some of her beads before (visit this post) and they're really amazing.  I liked these pieces so well, I asked Anastasia to do this hop with us and post about them.  You can find her post here.

I have a really cool project in mind for the Easter Island dude and I'm not going to spoil the surprise.  You'll just have to stay tuned for that one.  Meanwhile... I got distracted by a trip to Cancun.  Well, not actually Cancun, but Chichen Itza.  I've been lost in daydreams about Maya civilization ever since my visit there last month.  How could I not be, with sights like this:

Chichen Itza pics

And this:

Chichen Itza pyramid.

I'm enthralled.  I've spent hours and hours researching the Maya culture, just for the satisfaction of learning something I didn't know before.  I wish I could shrink myself down small enough to squeeze through time and transport myself back to that place so I could experience what it must was like to live there (yes, I'm geeky like that).

The Short Version:  the classic Maya flourished between 250 and 900 a.d.  They had around 40 cities built of stone with populations ranging from 5,000 to 50,000 people in each one.  That may not seem like a big deal, but for a civilization then to be able to feed that number of people in one place, it really was amazing.   Chichen Itza was really starting to flourish about the time the other great Maya cities were dying out (for reasons unclear to us).

It would have been a magical time, and the people were deeply religious.  They believed in many gods and elaborate ceremonies and rituals were an important part of their lives (yes, including human sacrifice).  One of the main gods was Kukulkan, the feathered serpent deity to whom the pyramid at Chichen Itza was dedicated.

Serpent clasp.

The ancient Maya made significant advances in astronomy (read up on the orientation of the pyramid at Chichen Itza sometime, if you don't believe me) and mathematics.  They had a system of writing (hieroglyphs).  They built temples and palaces that survive to this day.  How could I not be fascinated?

I found some photos from the late 1800's, when Chichen Itza was first "rediscovered":

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza

Isn't that incredible?  They've since rebuilt several of the structures to what we see today, but if you close your eyes and look closely, you can still feel the original architects. Remember the feathered serpent god?  I found an old (late 1800's) photo of one of the carvings of him on the Temple of Kukulkan at Chichen Itza and compared it to a photo I took last month.

Kukulkan carving on pyramid

Isn't that cool!  I really, really want to know what it must have been like in its heyday!  If only...

Colorized version.

Colorized version.

These colored images are some I found (thanks Tulane University) of what it might have looked like 1000 years ago.  The structures we see now are all monochromatic stone, but when they were built, they would have been a riot of bright color.

Many buildings would have been red with colorful accents.  I spent an afternoon "coloring" my own pyramid to get into the mindset:

Colored pyramid.

And then I decided to "build" one.  I started with a pile of cord and tried to recreate in knots the stepped sides and sweeping staircases of the Chichen pyramid.

Micro macrame pyramid in progress.

Did I lose you?  That's not a wedding cake (although it does sort of look like one at this stage).  Somewhere along the line while I was daydreaming about an ancient culture, it dawned on me this is what I had to use for the Beading Back in Time hop!  I wanted my piece to reflect the Maya's affinity for bright colors as well as incorporating the feathered serpent, the jaguar (there were several versions of the jaguar god), and, of course, the pyramid.

Maya necklace done in micro macrame with beaded fringe.

I suspended my finished pyramid from ten spiraling cords in bright colors ranging from blood red and Maya blue to the greens of the jungle.  At the back of the necklace, I brought all the cords together in a spiral ending in a clasp featuring twin serpents.  I added a jungle-y fringe at the bottom with some feathers (a favorite adornment of ancient Maya) and a jaguar charm.

Maya pyramid necklace in macrame by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame.

I hope you like my piece and I hope you'll join me to checking to see what everyone else has made for this, the Final Reveal of the Beading Back in Time Blog hop series.

Sherri Stokey <-----you are here
Lindsay Starr <-----Co-Host
Anastasia Kristala Urbanski
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Stephanie Haussler
Niky Sayers
Melissa Trudinger
Kelly Rodgers
Michelle McCarthy

If you've enjoyed this Beading Back in Time hop, you can find previous ones here:  Pre-Human Edition,  Early Human Edition and Early Civilization Edition.

If you'd like to read more about the ancient Maya civilization, these were some of my favorites:  Maya 3D (great if you want to pretend you're there!),  Virtual Chichen (also great for "almost" being there) and the Maya Civilization Wikipedia page (lots and lots of links to even more info).  Thanks for joining us today!


  1. I am speechless, and for me that is hard. I am not at all surprised at your creation, it is so amazing. I love it and so beautiful. You have the ability to write and take us back to these times. Your interruption is perfect, stunning. Thank you.

  2. Wow! I had no idea the pyramid would have been so colorful! I love how each part of the design was so thoughtfully planned out! So cool! And I LOVE that clasp!!!!! Thank you for sharing!

  3. How cool is this. We have been there and my husband walked to the top. His legs were very sore the rest of the trip. You definitely did it justice. Just beautiful.

  4. Art imitates life! It makes so much sense knowing you recently traveled there and were inspired by the Mayan ruins! I am always amazed with what you can fabricate from humble thread!


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