The Ch’ol Maya who live in the western Mexican state of Chiapas are direct descendants of the Maya of the Classic period. Exploring their history and culture, volume editor Karen Bassie-Sweet and the other authors assembled here uncover clear continuity between contemporary Maya rituals and beliefs and their ancient counterparts.

With evocative and thoughtful essays by leading scholars of Maya culture, The Ch’ol Maya of Chiapas, the first collection to focus fully on the Ch’ol Maya, takes readers deep into ancient caves and reveals new dimensions of Ch’ol cosmology. In contemporary Ch’ol culture the contributors find a wealth of historical material that they then interweave with archaeological data to yield surprising and illuminating insights. The colonial and twentieth-century descendants of the Postclassic period Ch’ol and Lacandon Ch’ol, for instance, provide a window on the history and conquest of the early Maya. Several authors examine Early Classic paintings in the Ch’ol ritual cave known as Jolja that document ancient cave ceremonies not unlike Ch’ol rituals performed today, such as petitioning a cave-dwelling mountain spirit for health, rain, and abundant harvests.

Other essays investigate deities identified with caves, mountains, lightning, and meteors to trace the continuity of ancient Maya beliefs through the centuries, in particular the ancient origin of contemporary rituals centering on the Ch’ol mountain deity Don Juan. An appendix containing three Ch’ol folktales and their English translations rounds out the volume.

Charting paths literal and figurative to earlier trade routes, pre-Columbian sites, and ancient rituals and beliefs, The Ch’ol Maya of Chiapas opens a fresh, richly informed perspective on Maya culture as it has evolved and endured over the ages.

About The Author

Karen Bassie-Sweet is Research Associate at the University of Calgary and codirects the Jolja Cave Project in Mexico. She is author of Maya Sacred Geography and the Creator Deities.

Robert M. Laughlin is author of Mayan Tales from Chiapas, Mexico.
Nicholas A. Hopkins is coeditor of Essays on Otomanguean Culture History.
Andrés Brizuela Casimir is an archaeologist and Head of the Department of Historical Monuments of the State of Chiapas.

Reviews & Praise
“This pioneering, in-depth study of the Ch’ol Maya reveals the dynamism of a great indigenous people who have refused to abandon their cultural identity through centuries of repression and exploitation and have persisted until our own time. A must-read for every student of the Maya!”—Michael D. Coe, author of Breaking the Maya Code

“This pioneering, in-depth study of the Ch’ol Maya reveals the dynamism of a great indigenous people who have refused to abandon their cultural identity through centuries of repression and exploitation and have persisted until our own time. A must-read for every student of the Maya!”—Michael D. Coe, author of Breaking the Maya Code

Book Information
27 b&w illus., 11 maps
280 Pages
Hardcover 978-0-8061-4702-4
Kindle 978-0-8061-4924-0
e-pub 978-0-8061-4925-7
Published April 2015
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