Guatemala 2013

The Maya Today

Photos by Walt & Gloria Fogler-Mancini


The Spanish came to conquer the Maya in what is now Guatemala in the early 16C.  Since there was no central political power, it took some 170 years and the help of locals to establish control.  Here, the Spanish colonial pattern kept the native population legally separate until the 20C.  Many Maya are integrated into the Hispanic culture and others have a culturally distinct Maya identity.  Most people and places blend the two cultures in various ways.

There have been many political and economic problems involving government and foreign interference, but the Maya have adapted and maintain a colorful way of life.  In towns, basic services are available and public transportation and commerce crowd the roads.  The infrastructure is developing and Guatemala, as a country, is impoverished. 

In some areas, modern religion can be a colorful hybrid of Catholicism and ancient beliefs.  Local  shamans/priests track the Maya calendar and conduct traditional rituals.  The folk saint Maximón is known as San Simon.  His effigy lives in a different house every year and is often present in Catholic churches.

The Maya are famous for their arts and crafts.  Each community makes woven textiles in their own distinctive colors and patterns.  Carved masks representing animals, spirits or people are used in dances such as the Dance of the Conquistadors.  The vendors in the open market in Chichicastenango are  known for the variety of Mayan goods they sell.

The photographs were taken with Leica cameras, the M9 and the R9 with a digital back.  All images are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission.  We can be contacted via e-mail at   Our home page is

July 28, 2013                                                                                                                                                                                                 wgfm

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