I went to a museum today. When I got home I uploaded pics and noticed that Franz Blom’s member card was renewed the year I was born. This was Thing 1 that excited me.
Thing 2 was sinking into LIVING MAYA during my mid-day siesta and becoming so engrossed, so deeply riveted by all I was reading. So much so that I didn’t even notice that just outside on my terrace a thick carpet of pine needles were being carefully spread over every square inch of floor. When i came-to and stepped outside I felt like a kid who sees snow for the first time. I walked over the pine needles in a trance. And that was Thing 3.
But back to Thing 2: Here is what I read…a bit of history quoted liberally (nearly entirely) from LIVING MAYA by Walter F. Morris, Jr.
The Highlands of Chiapas rise sharp and isolate above the tropics. At night the stars shine close and cold, and at dawn fog surrounds the sacred mountains and steep cornfields. As the sun rises, the volcanic peaks loom above the clouds like islands dreaming of the sea.
Within each mountain dwells an earthlord, the mythical being who directs the clouds, the rain, and the riches of the earth.
Just below the summit of MOSS mountain, the most sacred mountain of the Highlands, three cross shrines mark the entrance to three small caves. Crosses are gateways to the earthlord’s underworld domain. The shrines are to the Holy Ancestors who are the supernatural elders of each community. They watch over their people, punishing those who deviate from tradition, and teach shamans how to restore the well-being of lost souls.
When the Spanish entered the scene in the 16th century the Maya in this region were at war with the Chipanec. The Maya joined the Spaniards to defeat their enemies. Once the Spanish conquered the Chipanec however, and renamed the province of Chiapas after them, they marched up to the Highlands and promptly enslaved the Maya.
Chiapas history might have followed the same tragic path as the rest of Latin America had it not been for the intervention of the remarkable first bishop of Chiapas, Fray Bartolome de Las Casas. He convinced the Spanish king to free the Chiapas Maya, ban the conquistadores from Maya lands, and permit the Dominicans to convert the Maya peacefully to the True Faith. It was a noble experiment that succeeded in protecting the Maya of this region from some of the worst abuses of the conquest while convincing them to adopt the Catholic religions as their own. Ironically, Chiapas Maya Catholicism retains the music, pageantry, and devotional rites introduced in the 16th century. Many of the rituals and beliefs that appear most exotic to observers are actually customs that were practiced 400 years ago in Spain!
Thing 4 was going to the Na Bolom Museum which is where all the photos in this post were born.
You’ll excuse my unbridled enthusiasm. It really cannot be helped.
Sent from my iPad