The context of similar research

Is an ajq’ij as my group of interviewees describes it similar to what an ajq’ij is described as in the findings of other researchers? One way of trying to answer this question would be by looking at the terms that the authors have used when describing ajq’ijab, and, if they have interviewees, which words the interviewees have used. It may also be interesting to see what the work of an ajq’ij is thought to be to their interviewees compared to what my interviewees have told me.

My group of ajq’ijab compared to Hart’s group of Maya Priests

One example of research that it is reasonable to compare my findings with is the work of Thomas Hart. As mentioned in Chapter 3 above, Hart uses both the terms Maya priest and ajq’ij in his book The Ancient Spirituality of the Modern Maya.4 I have already discussed how the use of the term “priest” is problematic to the majority of my interviewees, and how it seems that the general impression of this word has changed among the ajq’ijab in just a few years.[1] [2]

There are a few other differences between my work and the work of Hart. His group of interviewees is considerably larger than mine, as he has talked to some 60 people. He also has performed his interviews over a longer period of time and talked to several non-ajq’ijab.

It was interesting for me to see that largely, what my interviewees could tell me was similar to what Hart had presented earlier. Often, I would find one example of a phenomenon that Hart had covered more extensively in his book. For instance, Carlos told that he had received a sign in the form of a snake.[3] Hart recounts similar stories about snakes, but in addition he has included stories of other animals bringing signs as well.[4]

A difference in Hart’s book is that nearly all of his interviewees are completely anonymous. He does not use pseudonyms either, so it is hard to know whether five or fifty of his interviewees could tell him about animal signs. In my group, only Carlos mentioned this phenomenon, telling us that it may not be a very common way to receive signs to most of my interviewees.[5]

Another difference from Hart’s findings was that among the Mam interviewees of my group, nearly all told me that four crosses were needed to become an ajq’ij,[6] while Hart in his book claims that three are enough.[7] An explanation for this may be that there are regional differences between the communities of Hart’s interviewees and mine. However, because Hart’s interviewees are completely anonymous and not just de-identified, this is difficult to confirm.

  • [1] In his book, Hart uses the spelling “Aj Q’ij.” Hart, Ancient Spirituality.
  • [2] See Chapter 3 above.
  • [3] See Chapter 8 above.
  • [4] Hart, Ancient Spirituality: 199-204.
  • [5] But it may also be that I did not ask the right questions to make them think of thisspecific phenomenon.
  • [6] See chapters 5, 7 and 8 above.
  • [7] Hart, Ancient Spirituality: 91.
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