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In Meso-America, dancers have a purpose -- they tell stories.  Dancers have been used to teach by the Aztecs, Maya, the Mixtec, the Zapotec. When they perform, a story is read while the movements of the dancers tell of the events of the tale. The dance goes on for hours because it is a long story.

In the Maya area, there are the Hulmul Dancers-- as on the vases excavated at the site of Hulmul. The racks worn on the backs of the dancers are made of light weight materials, probably of feathers and of bamboo. Most of the forms found on the back rack are symbols acquired over the years and used by those who drew the codices.

Each dancer has a backrack. Since the dance is a universal tale, the dancers appear all around the vase surface, as if they are dancing in the sky that encircles the world. The art work appears to say that it was a dance about a historical sky event.


Mayan scholar Linda Schele had a drawing of the Hulmul Dancer which clearly showed sky bands over and under a bird who spewed fire (symbolized by feathers). Rat bones were symbols of land elements, both of which can be traced through Aztec myths