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Final Paper


Victoria Kline
Anthropology 582: Mesoamerican Cultures
December 15, 2004
Dr. Ramona Perez

Guatemala Maya Identity Through Religion

Catholicism accounts for the majority of followers in Guatemala. Catholic religion was brought with the Conquistadors at the time of the Spanish Conquest. The priests began their work on the pagan pantheistic indigenous Indians immediately. To save them from their sinful ways and to bring them into the fold of the church required the relinquishment of their ancient religion to be replaced with the new, better Catholicism. The Catholic conversion process did not succeed in eradicating the ancient Maya religion, but formed a foreground through which surreptitious engagement in ancient rituals was allowed to continue. I will cover some aspects of Catholicism, discuss some of the literature on the native Mayan religion or the vestiges of it, and finally look at reasons and examples of religious conversion to Protestantism.  

Catholicism and the Fiesta System

John Early describes the “fiesta rituals” that take place among the Highland Maya of Guatemala and Chiapas. At Spanish contact, festivals occurred and were observed and recorded. Community sacrifices were offered during the festivals, which occurred five or six time a year. Getting ready for a sacrifice involved a whole hierarchy of village elders, the village leader, the high priest and others to perform various duties. They had to consult a diviner to decide what day the sacrifice should take place. When the date was known, the priests would begin a vigil that lasted many days. All men of the village would be secluded for this period and participate in abstinence from sex, the daily drawing of blood from many body parts, smear themselves with the blood, then they would sleep outside the temple in this blood stained state. Images of their gods were dressed in rich clothing, gold and precious stones. They put these decorated images on stands and paraded them through the village (Early 1983: 187, quoted from Ximenez 1929:81-82). Some Maya ritual participants would smear their own blood on the images.

Early notes the parallels with the contemporary saint festivals including sexual abstinence, and “Adorning the images and carrying them in procession on stands to the accompaniment of music” (Early 1983: 187) and also fasting in preparation for festival. The first saint the Mayas were introduced to was the Apostle Saint James, in an image riding a white horse and engaged in combat. The Mayas observed the reverence the Conquistadors demonstrated for the image. The Mayas imagined the saints as “powerful gods of the Spaniards” (Early 1983: 190) and wanted to embrace that power themselves. Early tells us “The mayordomo or confradia system developed as a structural means to take care of the saints and to help with church rituals” (Early 1983: 192). The church implemented the confradia brotherhoods into Mayan communities to: “woo the Maya away from their traditional world view,” (Early 1983: 192) and to help gain financing for the church and the ritual.

The Mesoamerican civil-religious hierarchy system is also known as the cargo, fiesta, or mayordomo system (Chance 1985: 1). The civil-religious hierarchy is a system of ranked offices that combine to perform administrative functions for a community. Position in the ranked system at once demands input in the form of labor and money at the same time imbuing the participant with status (Chance 1985: 1). Chance states that the civil-religious hierarchy was a product of post-independence development rather than of colonial origins (Chance 1985: 2). A feature of the modern fiesta system is that to participate in an office of the fiesta system and engage in ritual celebrations creates a great economic burden for the participant (Chance 1985: 7). It is thought that the inception of the cargo system is linked to the “cofradias or Catholic lay brotherhoods” (8) that began soon after military Conquest. “Religious offices in the colonial period were centered in cofradias, which were founded to organize local support for the cult and pay for its expenses” (8).

In a journal article, John Watanabe examines how and why the Maya “people have come to imbue a Catholic saint with their native ‘Mayanness’” and “what this reveals about religious syncretism” (Watanabe 1990: 131). Using the town of Santiago Chimultenango as an example, Watanabe describes the way in which the Mam Maya of Santiago pay tribute to the town’s patron saint, Santiago (Saint James). There are two wooden images of the saint. The large image stays above the altar in the church. The small image is dressed in indigenous costume. Santiago and wife, Saint Ann (another image) also dressed in indigenous clothing, are carried around the town in processions during significant fiestas. Santiago provides protection for the people of Chimultenango (Watanabe 1990: 134). In Watanabe’s words, “Contemporary Maya saint clubs originated with the Spanish conquest of the New World and have their roots in the local worship of Catholic saints in 16th-century Spain” (Watanabe 1990: 135). Public devotions to the saints are “obligations prescribed by each community’s annual cycle of fiestas” (Watanabe 1990: 138).

According to Watanabe, the saints that are venerated by the Maya were always manifestations of “Maya ancestors and earth lords” (Watanabe 1990: 139) and not Catholic saints.

Catholicism and Indigenous Beliefs

In Menchu’s “I Rigoberta Menchu,” Rigoberta, a young woman of Quiche Maya descent, became a catechist and leader/teacher for the church. But then it seems that Catholicism was not such a central force in her family’s life. 

Menchu talks about the Catholic Action that became part of her community’s life even though she maintains that the people do not just practice Catholicism. She says, “Our people have taken Catholicism as just another channel of expression, not just our only one” (Menchu 1984: 9). And she sees the contradictions that happen in the eyes of the priests and nuns in continuing with the old rituals, but that is because they do not understand the beliefs, she says (Menchu 1984: 9).

At birth, the child comes out. “He is told he will eat maize and that, naturally, he is already made of maize” (Menchu 1984: 13) as that is what the mother ate while he was in the womb. “Every child is born with a nahual” (Menchu 1984: 18). The day of the week indicates which protective spirit the child has in the form of an animal or tree. For instance nine dogs or three horses can represent a nahual (Menchu 1984: 18). The nahual is not told to the child until he or she is old enough to leave the family. Until then the mother and father keep the identity of the child’s nahual a secret. She adds “ We Indians have always hidden our identity and kept our secrets to ourselves” (Menchu 1984: 20).

They always ground the corn that was used to make tortillas on “an ancient stone passed down from our ancestors,” (Menchu 1984: 43) over a wooden cook fire. To do this daily was a rigorous routine, getting up at 3 in the morning to have the entire chore done by morning mealtime. At maize planting time a ceremony was performed. “The seed is honored because it will be buried in something sacred – the earth - … the seed is something pure” (Menchu 1984: 52).

Indian children get a different education than do ladinos, says Menchu, because they worship polytheistic gods (Menchu 1984: 56). For them water is pure and sacred and “earth is the mother of man because she gives us food” (Menchu 1984: 56) and the children are taught to respect the earth. Permission is asked of the earth when it is time to plant (Menchu 1984: 56). There is mention in many sections of the book regarding the closeness to nature and the worship of earth, sun, animal world, trees, etc. even though they are also Catholic.

Much more symbolic in approach is taken in the “Flowering of the Dead,” a study of Maya culture in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. How these people relate to their world is encompassed in a religion that uses symbolism from the ancients.  According to Robert Carlsen and Martin Prechtel, far from being the victims of vanquished defeated people that succumbed to the Spanish Conquest, the Maya have held on to their ancient belief system, and that “Maya culture has been far more resilient and self-directed than many scholars have believed” (Carlsen and Prechtel 1991: 24).

Carlsen and Prechtel put forth the argument that “continuity of ideas, religious or otherwise, is essential to cultural stability and continuity” (1991: 24). At Conquest, they say, central core concepts of their belief systems remained intact providing a framework upon which modifications could be made and still keep the core intact. One of these core beliefs is that of the “Jaloj-K’exoj” that the authors describe as: “a Mayan conceptualization of observed processes and patterns in the natural environment . . . a central paradigm of the local culture” (Carlsen and Prechtel 1991: 25). That Jaloj-K’exoj survives demonstrates cultural continuity and provides the framework “to explain the cultural patterns which emerged from the Conquest period” (Carlsen and Prechtel 1991: 25).

Old religion, which is called costumbres or customs, is still practiced by the Atitecos (persons from Atitlan), although there has been movement away from this practice in recent years. Now the town is divided into 35% Protestants, and the rest Catholics and Costumbrias. According to Carlsen and Prechtel, the Costumbrias are those that host the cofradias. And the underlying principle of the Costumbria religion is that of Jaloj-K’exoj that must be slowly learned over time.

From the roots of the word are jal and k’ex that both mean to change. “Jal is the change manifested by a thing as it evolves through its individual life cycle” (Carlsen and Prechtel 1991: 26) as in birth, youth, old age, and death. Furthermore, that life comes from death is a traditional Mayan belief. Jal means change on the outside or “husk,” while k’ex is change at the seed as in origin, or ancestry. The Mayas worship the ancestors (Carlsen and Prechtel 1991: 26). Maya religion supports a belief in a form of reincarnation in notion of making new out of old. “Together jal and k’ex form a concentric system of change within change, a single system of transformation and renewal” (Carlsen and Prechtel 1991: 26).  This goes along with the naming system, grandson named after grandfather, so these two become the same person, a form of immortality, say authors Carlsen and Prechten.

In Atitecos myth, Jaloj_K’exjo forms the symbolic center, the “Flowering Mountain Earth,” a maize plant or tree (Carlsen and Prechtel 1991: 27). The “Flowering Mountain Earth” has a wooden representation on the altar of the Catholic Church of Santiago Atitlan! At the top of the mountain is a “World Tree” that must be fed in order to continue to give sustenance to the people. In order to feed the World Tree, Atitecos dig holes in the land and put offerings into it. These are offerings to the ancestors, given through the hole or umbilicus (Carlsen and Prechtel 1991: 27). Feeding is also negotiated through ritual as dance, incense burning, or praying are acceptable ways of appeasing the ancestors and discharging obligations.

Through their daily work in the maize field, the Maya sees the processes of the cycle of life from the planting (interring, burying) of the seeds (little skulls), that sprout (little ones), mature, flower, and die. When a plant sprouts, they say “his face come out” in the same way an infant sprouts from his mother. Children are “fruits, flowers, and leaves” (Carlsen and Prechtel 1991: 29). Grandchildren are called sprouts, while grandparents are often called old trees. There are many other metaphors of body parts to plant parts: feet and trunk, or hand and branch.

Sandra Orellano’s, “Idols and Idolatry in Highland Guatemala,” shows similar manifestations of ancestral worship in her Guatemalan ethnohistory. The priests, who came in with the Spaniards at the time of the Conquest, quickly saw that the Maya religion was one of polytheism, represented by idols, and belief in spirits and magic. The priests sought to destroy all idols, and pretty much eradicate the old religion, to replace it with the Roman Catholicism. Orellano says that pre-Spanish, there were many idols that the people kept, some hidden in their homes, or many places outside. Cave worship was an important practice, and “in the highlands it is still believed that the earth gods live under mountains and that caves and sinkholes are the entrances to their homes” (Orellano 1981: 158). A hidden idol was more revered than one in plain sight. A dark, remote cave was the perfect place to contain an idol. Important idols were hidden in caves or temples. Small idols were 2 to 10 inches long and made of clay or stone, large idols could also be made of wood.

Rituals that were practiced by the native Indians were of “fasting, ritual purification, abstinence from sexual relations, sacrifice, confession, drinking, and dancing to music” (Orellano 1981: 161). Sounds like a party and it is funny that they would indulge in excesses of some things while eliminating other normal activities. Maybe that was the point. They dressed up the idols of their gods, and some of them “were carried in procession and placed in the temples” ((Orellano 1981: 161). Other groups would take the idol to a cave and leave it there with offerings. Orellano talks about the sacrifice as a central feature of the cults (what the costumbres are called). Sacrifice was expected from the gods for favors done for humans. A sacrifice could be food, or incense, human blood and hearts ((Orellano 1981: 161). Human sacrifice intensified after the year 1250. Not performing your sacrifices at certain intervals throughout the year, or not carefully executing rituals was considered a sin ((Orellano 1981: 161).

A great deal of religious preparation was involved in the cycle of human sacrifice and was considered a collective ritual. The men sacrificed much time in seclusion with other men in fast, abstinence from sex and bathing, and bloodletting as sacrifice before a sacrificial ritual was performed. Victims were sacrificed to the idols and often smeared the blood of the victim on the idols head and mouth, as if the idol were feeding on the blood (Orellano 1981: 162).

There were many, many times when sacrifice was necessary, blood or not, public or private, as at the time of the blooming of certain flowers. At Conquest, the ritual and religious practices of the Maya were brought to an end so they thought, as there was no religious tolerance of idol cults, sacrifices, or polytheism. The physical power of the invaders brought these rituals to a halt. In actuality, the rituals and idolatry continued to be practiced clandestinely, while outwardly the Maya practiced Catholicism. When the Spaniards withdrew “from the countryside, Indian beliefs began to fuse with Catholic elements to form a new syncretic religion” (Orellano 1981: 165).

E. Michael Mendelson’s 1958 “Guatemalan Sacred Bundle” is a study done in the 1950s to observe some of the rituals that the Maya were partaking of at the time. The links to the ancient religion seem clear as does the syncretism with Catholicism. In Santiago Atitlan in the Southern Guatemala Highlands there are sponsorships of religious rituals by ten cofradias. Each cofradia is in charge of the celebration for one saint. Mendelsen describes the ritual of the Dance of San Martin, which consists of cofradia members dressing as animal, using animal skins, colored ribbons, and deer antlers with skull attached in a very elaborate symbolic rite. Some men imitate tigers carrying stuffed squirrels in their hands. They dance to live marimba music. On an alter table are the sacred bundle, wrapped in red cloth and about 12 by 24 inches in size, and also a “small apron of disintegrating cloth with little wooden, colonial-style angel faces sewn onto it” (Mendelsen 1958: 122). The dance continues with a battle of the deer and the tiger until the deer is killed by the tiger, then the deer is carried off on the tiger’s back into the cofradia (the small chapel) ritually sacrificed (122).

Mendelson also wrote about a fetish like icon that was kept by Mayas in the 1950s, consisting of a piece of wood some 2 and a-half feet high by 6-8 inches thick. This piece of wood had other parts added until it became an iconic figure when it was dressed in clothing. This figure then takes on the form of the Catholic saints. This figure’s name is Maximon and he used to have a cofradia (Mendelsen 1959: 57).

The cofradia, cargo, fiesta system is an entrenched part of the Maya life way, but the expenditure involved in hosting the fiestas has become so costly and such an enormous burden that it has been the cause of some to turn to a new offering in Protestantism.

Protestant Conversion in Guatemala

Why would the indigenous people of Guatemala or other Mayan communities choose to leave their old system of beliefs and look to a new and fairly different one? To get to the root of the religious conversion happening in Maya communities, Garrett Cook did a study of the provocation for conversion to Protestantism by Mayas. The location for the ethnographic study of the Maya Pentecost was Ox Mul, Belize where in the 1980s there was a massive conversion to Pentecostalism (2001: 147). From 1978 to 1988, five new Pentecostal churches opened in or near Ox Mul. Cook searched to find the reasons for this monumental adjustment away from Catholicism to Protestantism in the Mayan/Mestizo village. One reason given by interviewees is that the people of Ox Mul favor the leadership rolls allowed to church members by Pentecostal doctrine, unlike the Catholic authoritarian hierarchy. Pentecostalism adapts “to Maya culture and social life” (Cook 2001: 148). Reasons given by converts at the height of conversions say they thought things were getting out of control in terms of men abusing family members and drinking too much alcohol.

The pattern of conversion followed family lines eventually ending up with a church leader from each of the five most prosperous families. The churches are endogamous thus retaining their members at marriage; the cores of each of the five churches are brothers and their families. So conversions began within families, others joined until carrying capacity was reached, a new church was formed placing one of the major family’s head men in charge, so that now each church has a leader that is the head of one of the five most prosperous families in Ox Mul. Essentially, reasons sited by Cook for Maya conversion from Catholic to Protestant between the 1970s and 1980s had to do with freedom of expression, more control over family life, and bettering conditions within family relations (2001).

In another study of religious conversion, Reconsidering Protestant Growth in Guatemala, 1900-1995, Henri Gooren gives statistical information on conversions to Protestantism in Guatemala (2001: 180-188). The author asks several questions pertaining to the growth of Protestantism in the country of Guatemala. For several periods of time we are given the count of membership for each church, and how that differed in terms of growth for several church categories (over 20 churches), a membership profile, and a brief analysis (2001: 180-188). Between 1976 and 1986 Gooren’s study revealed a countrywide explosion of Protestant conversion. He believes this was due to the effects of the breakdown of society, the mission activity the earthquake brought into the country, the large number of evangelization campaigns at the time, the exodus to urban areas pushed by the war, and the turning away from the traditional fiesta system (Gooren 2001: 190). 

In Making Our World: Protestant Q’eqchi’ Mayas in Highland Guatemala, author Abigail Adams begins with an example and discussion of the trance state, and how the US Protestant missionaries, and the Q’eqchi’ Mayas “describe language as a powerful substance that flows from the ‘heart’ among humans, between humans and the gods” (2001: 205-206). By the late 1980s, says Adams, one third of the population of Guatemala “called themselves evangélicos” (2001: 206) in an assortment of congregations. In 1992 in the Guatemalan town of San Juan Chamelco, over half the households had converted to Protestantism (from Catholicism) (2001: 208).

The Nazarene Church is the oldest and largest in San Juan Chamelco. The Catholic Church also has strong membership. The town of San Juan Chamelco was itself started by Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, a Catholic priest. In Guatemala the number of Q’eqchi’ speakers is growing with 90% being monolingual. By contrast, the Q’eqchi’ portion of San Juan Chamelco is 89% and of those less that 34% are monolingual (for Q’eqchi’) (Adams 2001: 209). The population is mostly rural, engaging in corn subsistence farming and century plant cultivation, with the men leaving seasonally for wage work in the lowlands.

The trances that some Q’eqchi’ Mayas enter and the messages they deliver are witnessed and believed by other Q’eqchi’ Maya. During a vigil, the entranced host becomes a medium for the Holy Spirit (Anglo religion) or any number of mountain spirits (Maya religion). The channeled spirits make demands on those present including instructions to pass the words on to others. And they do get passed on. Instructions can be to stop using the modern time saving corn grinders (women) and go back to grinding corn in the ancient way with the mano and metate. Or, the message can be to donate more money and time to the church so that it may become strong. The goal of the vigils is “to receive the mountain spirits and hear their instructions” (Adams 2001: 212).

The ability to trance is regarded as a great skill and is believed a centering of the “heart.” A person with “heart” is mature, seasoned, up there in years, and has a command of language. For the Q’eqchi’, “maturity requires a person to take individual responsibility for the collective consequences of their actions” (Adams 2001: 214) including what they say and how they say it. Language that gets out of hand, for instance in gossip, is said to have heat that grows and becomes destructive. One must be mature to quash that kind of talk for the betterment of the community (Adams 2001: 213-214). Words (for the Q’eqchi’) are powerful spoken or written. Language is heat produced by the body, “that originated with the creation of the world and with the first words of the gods” (Adams 2001: 215).

The Church of the Nazarene’s bible translation into Q’eqchi’ was extremely successful. Q’eqchi’ worldview and Nazarene religion focus on the sacred word. With their bible translation the Church of the Nazarene got an unanticipated high number of converts.

The most successful Protestant churches in Alta Verapaz are the Nazarene church and the Babtist church as they are more formal and orderly than Pentecostal churches. Balance and order are important, doing things slowly, having patience. The author points out that there is a connection between becoming more financially stable and changing religion. Again we see that the Protestant church offered “direct access to the Bible and an end to the overwhelming economic requirements of the lay Catholic offices” (Adams 2001: 222) the hosting of the fiestas and all the high costs that entailed.

There is a connection of the Maya desire for balance and order as something universal that all of us would like to achieve. They seem to have a plan for achieving it through living a good life. Part of their instruction comes from their ancient beliefs and worldview, coupled with what they can use to their benefit from any new set of beliefs that comes in the form of words and language that they believe have great sacred power. The Nazarene philosophy fit their thinking in this.

One third of Guatemalans claim to be Protestant says author David Scotchmer in his “Pastors, Preachers, or Prophets?” His “experience and research among Maya Protestants in the western highlands point to the symbolic integrity and totality of the Protestant ‘package’ as it resolves contextually through a constructed worldview and ethos” (Scotchmer 2001: 236). According to this statement, Protestant Mayas have converted to Protestantism because of the soundness they find in Protestant religious representations, and that the way in which Protestantism can be understood or engaged in by Maya involves the ability for Protestantism to be reconciled with the Maya worldview or belief system. Guatemalan Protestantism thus becomes a synchronized construct of both worlds. Guatemalans become agents or constructors of their own system of faith.  He also sees that the conversion has different meaning for Ladinos. They do not have the ancient worldview of the Mayas.

A study of Protestant faith in the town of Ostuncalco serves to illustrate the author’s observations. First he divides Protestants into 16 possible categories as Pentecostal or non-Pentecostal in denomination, historically missionary or indigenous, accountability as local or national, and membership of ladino or Indian (Scotchmer 2001: 239). By organizing the members of the churches this way, Scotchmer looks for the way the Protestant churches organize themselves. He identifies and describes three types of local organization as democratic, hierarchical, or authoritarian. In Ostuncalco, Pentecostal churches are hierarchical or authoritarian, Presbyterians are democratic and egalitarian in organization as are Christian Assemblies.

Two categories of leadership styles in Maya Protestantism are described: Indian subordination and Indian solidarity. There is a long discussion of each type with specific examples. The Indian subordination example is of Andrés, and his leadership style is considered subordinate because he has given up his traditional beliefs and replaced them with new ones that have allowed him to live a life free of alcohol and poverty. The Indian solidarity story is about Pedro, who gave up all traditional beliefs at once to remove himself from the dominating influence of his father and that of the Ladino Spiritist leader to follow his own calling in the Protestant Church. The solidarity model is for “Mayas who do not want to abandoned their culture, their language, or their identity as Indians” (Scotchmer 2001: 250) and Pedro is the example for this. These two models are better explained at the closing paragraph: the Indian subordination model “legitimates the unequal status ideology of Ladino dominance in the name of religious accommodation” while the Indian solidarity model allows Maya Protestant leaders to “challenge the inequality of a system that seeks to use and abuse them” (Scotchmer 2001: 256).  

Alan R. Sandstrom gives a superior overview of the entire book that includes information from his personal ethnographic fieldwork in Veracruz, Mexico, in a small community of Nahuatl speakers. Over a period of thirty years, Sandstrom made several yearlong studies of the area. He noticed a change in the temperament of the people during a visit in the 1980s that was caused by the conversion of several members of the community to convert to Protestantism. According to Sandstrom, the motivation to convert from their longstanding Native American and folk-Catholicism to Protestantism was an economic crisis that was partially resolved by having many of the young men travel to urban areas for wage work. At the same time Protestant missionaries attempted to sway peoples beliefs through fear (fear of going to hell), which they impressed into the converts through video images, an experience that most of them had never had before.

The Nahua Native America religion took Sandstrom many years of research in the field to piece together, as the Nahuatls are secretive as a rule. People learn about such thing slowly over time through participation, and that is the route the author had to take to gain information on the subject (Sandstrom 2001: 274).

The reasons for conversion to Protestantism include the ability to assume leadership rolls that is available in the Catholic Church, the desire to stop abuse and alcoholism within families, the breakdown of old systems by stressors, or a catastrophe of some kind, trances and healing hands, channeling with mountain spirits, getting away from the high cost of hosting fiestas, the ability to reconcile Protestantism with the Maya worldview or belief system. The Protestant missionaries sometimes use unsavory tactics to get their converts, like scaring the hell out of them with brimstone and fire. One example of fiery conversion methods was illustrated in this passage by Sheldon Annis where he talks about a missionary that goes into a rampaging preaching session: “the prophet’s body starts to tremble. Clutching his work Bible, his hand rises with a life of its own” (Annis 1987: 2) and he talked animatedly for several minutes about Satan and earthquakes, trembling and sweating. But their methods are far less invasive than those of the Catholic missionaries who converted by force. The process of converting to Catholicism could not have happened without some recognition of similarities between their beliefs and the new religion. 

The cofradia system was a brotherhood begun through the Catholic Church shortly after conquest to lure the nature worshiping Maya away from their unacceptable belief systems. But vestiges of the old Maya belief system seem to remain in practice passed on from generation to generation secretly.

Protestantism does not fit in with the old ways of community service and involvement for communal good. But it does allow for open practices of healing, positions of church leadership for those who desire it, direct contact with God rather than through an intermediary, the priest. And it also fits into a more modern, westernized version of Guatemalan life.


Sources Cited

Adams, Abigail E.
2001    Making One Our Word: Protestant Q’eqchi’ Mayas in Highland Guatemala. In Holy Saints and Fiery Preachers. James W. Dow and Alan R. Sandstrom eds. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger.

Annis, Sheldon
1987    God and Production in a Guatemalan Town. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press.

Carlsen, Robert S., and Martin Prechel
1991    The Flowering of the Dead: An Interpretation of Highland Maya Culture. Man 26(1): 23-42.

Chance, John K., and William B. Taylor
1985    Cofradias and Cargos: An Historical Perspective on the Mesoamerican Civil-Religious Heirarchy. American Ethnologist 12(1): 1-26.

Cook, Garret W.
2001    The Maya Pentecost. In Holy Saints and Fiery Preachers. James W. Dow and Alan R. Sandstrom eds. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger.

Dow, James W., and Alan R. Sandstrom (eds.)
2001    Holy Saints and Fiery Preachers: The Anthropology of Protestantism in Mexico and Central America. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger.

Early, John D.
1983    Some Ethnographic Implications of an Ethnohistorical Perspective of the Civil-Religious Heirarchy among the Highland Maya. Ethnohistory 30(4): 185-202.

Gooren, Henri
2001    Reconsidering Protestant Growth in Guatemala, 1900-1995. In Holy Saints and Fiery Preachers. James W. Dow and Alan R. Sandstrom eds. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger. 

Menchu, Rigoberta
1984    I, Rigoberto Menchu. Anne Wright Ed. and trans. New York: Verso.

Mendelson, E. Michael
1958    A Guatemalan Sacred Bundle. Man 58: 121-126.
1959    Maximon: An Iconographical Introduction. Man 59: 57-60.

Orellana, Sandra L.
1981    Idols and Idolatry in Highland Guatemala. Ethnohistory 28(2): 157-177.

Sandstrom, Alan R.
2001    Conclusion: Anthropological Perspectives on Protestant Conversion in Mesoamerica. In Holy Saints and Fiery Preachers. James W. Dow and Alan R. Sandstrom eds. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger.

Scotchmer, David
2001    Pastors, Preachers, or Conflict? Cultural Conflict and Continuity in Maya Protestant Leadership. In Holy Saints and Fiery Preachers. James W. Dow and Alan R. Sandstrom eds. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger.

Watanabe, John M.
1990    From Saints to Shibboleths: Image, Structure, and Identity in Maya Religious Syncretism. American Ethnologist 17(1): 131-150.

Wilson, Richard
1993    Anchored Communities: Identity and History of the Maya Q’eqchi’. Man 28(1): 121-138.

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