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The Mayan People

Maya civilization spans more than 3000 years in the rain forests and mountains maya relief of what is now Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. During the Classic period (A.D. 250-900), the Maya created a complex society that includes literature, art, mathematics, astronomy, and calendrics. Living through centuries of oppression, in the shadow of a foreign culture since the Spanish invasion, the Maya have retained much of their traditional culture. This is a testimony to the power and resilience of Maya traditions.

shaman
Alsemo prays at a curing ceremony
butterfly pattern

CHIAPAS, the southern-most state of Mexico, borders Guatemala to the southeast. Today, over one million Tzotzil- and Tzeltal-speaking Maya live in the Chiapas highlands.

The indigenous people of Chiapas are among the most traditional of the three million Maya of Mesoamerica. They live in remote mountain and lowland communities where they grow their own crops, build their own houses, furniture and musical instruments, and the women still weave and embroider clothing for themselves and their families. Neighboring communities often speak different Mayan languages, and they retain their own ritual and ceremonial practices, along with a distinctive style of traditional dress.

chiapas map
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