The ajq’ijab as presented by researchers

I am not the first person to write about neither the ajq’ijab nor the Maya.[1] Several authors have written about the Maya and related topics over the years from different perspectives. After presenting a brief overview of some of the literature that exists, I will discuss three recent books on the subject of ajq’ijab.

Guatemalan research

A lot of the literature written on Maya spirituality, the ajq’ijab and other specialists within Maya culture in recent years has been written by Guatemalan researchers, especially from the Institute for Interethnic Studies (IDEI) at the University of San Carlos. In later years, Maria Teresa Mosquera Saravia of IDEI has focused on traditional medicine and especially on the work of traditional healers, curanderos, and traditional midwives, comadronas.[2] However, such Guatemalan publications are normally written with a Guatemalan audience in mind, and so they often skip the step of explaining key elements of Maya tradition, culture and spirituality. Such elements may be well known to many (but not all) Guatemalans, but not to people from other parts of the world. There is also a practical problem of availability. It may be hard to get a hold of Guatemalan literature on the subject outside of Guatemala.

An exception to these two tendencies is probably the literature on ethnic divisions in Guatemala from colonial times until today. The best known such work, focusing on the colonial period, is probably La Patria del Criollo by Severo Martinez Pelaez.[3] However, these works tend not to focus on Maya culture and spirituality, but rather on Maya ethnicity.

  • [1] In this section, I will focus on studies of contemporary Maya and their spirituality.For literature on the classical Maya, see for instance Michael D. Coe, The Maya, 8 ed.(London: Thames and Hudson, 2011); Linda Schele and David A. Freidel, A Forest ofKings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya (New York, NY: Morrow, 1990); Linda Scheleand Mary Ellen Miller, The Blood of Kings: Dynasty and Ritual in Maya Art (London:Thames and Hudson, 1992). It may also be of interest to read Popol Vuh, the K’iche’ bookof myths written down around 1700 by unknown writers, in one of its many translations.
  • [2] Cf. Maria Teresa Mosquera Saravia, Conociendo la sabiduria Achi: salud y enfermedaden Rabinal (Guatemala City: Instituto de Estudios Interetnicos de la Universidad deSan Carlos de Guatemala, 2001); Maria Teresa Mosquera Saravia, Logicas y racion-alidades: entre comadronas y terapeutas tradicionales (Guatemala City: Instituto deEstudios Interetnicos de la Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, 2006).
  • [3] Severo Martinez Pelaez, La Patria del Criollo: An Interpretation of Colonial Guatemala,trans. Susan M. Neve and W George Lovell (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009).
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