17 March 2008

Featured Mayan Artisan: Jose Perez, Master Carver

Master Carver of Limestone, Wood and Mayan Graphic Leather Art.

Location: Drive to Tulum, go right on the Coba highway to the very northern house on the right hand side of the road in the second Pueblo, Francisco Un May. KM 22 – There is a small black sign with white letters, Mayan Graphic Leather Made Here.

I first met Jose Perez 10 years ago in Akumal at the Lol Ha Restaurant. Jose was one of the sponsored Mayan artisans allowed booth space. He would quietly carve glyphs, gods and Mayan and Aztec calendars from limestone using simple and age old tools.

He was mesmerizing to watch work and one could not help but notice the high quality of his art versus the mass produced items that I occasionally would see in the commercial road side markets.

Over the years Jose has become my special amigo and has forged a successful career using his unique talent and craft. Jose now owns his own home and gallery on the Coba road. Jose is a must visit for truly high quality Mayan art.

I have purchased many of his carvings and leather works and commissioned art from Jose. My current commission is the ruler’s scepter, held by the last known King of Coba on Steale #10 located in the great plaza of the Nohoch Mul Group at Coba. The steale is dated November 30, 780 AD. This is the last known date that steales were erected at Coba. The staff represents the balance of the world; the sun and the moon are carved on each end of the staff. These figures represent the light and the dark of the Mayan cosmology. Jose is holding the original that will be mine when I return to Akumal later this year. He will reproduce this carving for future buyers upon commission. It takes 9 weeks of labor to carve the wooden scepter to perfection.

Jose has received many commissions. One example is located in the garden of Casa Redonda in Akumal. The limestone carving represents the Mayan Sun God. The statue has faithfully protected Casa Redonda through three hurricanes according to the owner, Dr. Jim Stoddard. Commissions are made on a verbal basis requiring a small deposit.

Jose and his wife Julie who is also very talented have many beautiful and unique items for sale. Their art ranges in price from inexpensive and affordable to expensive for commissioned pieces. The more intricate the art results in a higher price. Purchasing directly from the people certainly does help the local economy. Please stop by for a visit if you are traveling the Coba road. Jose and Juile are lovely people, they truly appreciate the business.

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