Midden- en Zuid-Amerika - Museum Volkenkunde
Permanent exhibition

Central and South America

Mayas, Aztecs, Amazon peoples and Incas

Ancient cultures with a legendary history. The galleries devoted to the cultures of Central and South America are a feast for the eyes.

Try out the age-old hip ballgame Pok-Ta-Pok!

You can test your hand-eye coordination too, by trying out the age-old hip ballgame Pok-Ta-Pok. You’ll find it’s more than just a game. There were various types of ballgames in Central America that had both a sporting and a religious significance. The sports field had a symbolic link to the underworld, where the Maya believed that two fraternal demigods competed against the Harbingers of Death.

Headdresses of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon

Also on display are the headdresses belonging to the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, headgear of colourful beauty fashioned from birds’ feathers and the carapaces of beetles. Marvel at items of Inca culture in a display case filled with ceramic pieces such as the stirrup pitchers: when you see them, you’ll know at once where the name comes from.

Día de los Muertos

The most striking display in these exhibition galleries must surely be the group of life-sized skeletons making music. The story behind this: Dia de los Muertos, the Feast of All Souls, is celebrated every year in November in Central and Southern America. The people believe that on that day, the souls of the dead return to earth to visit their families. In Mexico particularly the day of the dead is cause for wild celebration. The streets are full of paper mache skeletons, colourful costumes and skulls made of sugar.

Want to view the entire collection of Southern and Central America? Please click here.