Home Sociology Balancing the World: Contemporary Maya ajq’ijab in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
Some of the interviewees occasionally mentioned characters from Popol Vuh, a book of K’iche’ narratives written down around 1700 CE by the Dominican priest Francisco Ximenez, who copied and translated the text from an unidentified source. The book contains several myths, including a creation myth, where humans are created out of maize after the gods have had three unsuccessful tries with other materials. In recent years it has become revered as a “Maya Bible,” especially among many K’iche’s. Juan is a K’iche’ himself, but he thinks it should be considered a book for all American indigenous peoples.
Popol Vuh is for us like the Bible is for the Christians. Before, they thought that the book only explained the origin of the K’iche’s, of the Guatemalan people, but the truth is that for us, the ajq’ijab, this book explains the greater process of how the American peoples in general were formed. This book explains the origin of the people of the American continent, not only of the Guatemalan people. It would be a lie if we were to say that Popol Vuh only spoke of the origin of the K’iche’s. Maize is the most important sustenance of this region, of the American continent.
Faith (Spanish: fe) is also referred to as central by most of the interviewees. When talking about how they perform their work, nearly all of them mention that things can and will go wrong if the ajq’ij or any other person does not believe fully in what he or she is doing.
Faith is the most important. If the faith is mediocre, nothing works. And faith has only one meaning, it’s not Christian, it’s universal. The F stands for fuerza, [‘strength,’] and the E stands for espiritu, [‘spirit,’] it is a spiritual strength. [...] The faith has to be 100%, complete, not mediocre. If you have faith in that you will stay alive today, you will.
If you have faith in that you left and will return to your house today, you’re going to return, no doubt about it. Today, in the morning, [faith] saved me from two collisions. One bus ran a red light while I was going on green. Another crossed in front of me, but I stopped.
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