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The MuralThe 360 Degree View

Three Prostrate forms

These three figures represent the blending of the Spanish and Indian cultures. Many aspects of Mexican culture are greatly influenced by both the native Indian cultures of the Aztec, Maya, Toltec, and other groups as well as the Spanish conquistadors. We can see these influences today in the language, art, and architecture of Mexico.

Spanish is the official language of Mexico, but throughout the country you’ll find many different native dialects. Investigators have identified at lease 139 lost Indian languages, but of the 50 or more Indian cultures remaining in Mexico, some have only a few hundred members remaining, living in rural zones far from large urban populations.

Mexican culture is a rich mixture of the Indian and Spanish cultures. The Indian influence comes from the Mayans, Aztecs, and Toltecs, advanced cultures that left the architecturally and artistically sophisticated ruins found throughout the country. The Spanish left their mark on Mexico’s modern cities. (The famed Museum of Natural History won world prizes for architecture.) Painting was highly developed before the Spanish arrived. Europe has enriched this tradition, and modern Mexico’s celebrated artists such as Juan Cordero, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo are known worldwide.

Architecture of the ancient Indians, still evident throughout Mexico and west Texas, was related chiefly to religion. Many ancient structures still stand near Mexico City and at Chichen Itza in Yucatan. After the Spanish conquest, the earliest mission churches were designed in a simple style. Later churches, especially those built during the 1700's, took on a more ornamental style. During the 1900's, many Mexican architects have combined ancient Indian designs with modern construction methods.

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extended activity
Name five things you can see, hear, or touch on the border that have either an Indian or a Spanish influence.

Related Links:

World Book information about Mexican culture
http://www.worldbook.com/fun/cinco/html/mexicanart.htm

Mexico: Splendors of Thirty Centuries (Humanities Exhibit from the Texas Humanities Resource Center)
http://www.humanities-interactive.org/splendors/

Read More, Learn More:

Anaya, Rudolfo A. 1994. Bless Me, Ultima. Warner Books, Incorporated