Who are the Maya and Where Did they Come From, Anyway?

In spite of their challenging terrain and vastness of their reach, the varieties in their languages and the serial interventions of conquistadors and modern opportunists, the Mayans keep their spirit, arts of fabric and design enriched and undiluted.

Ladies still do this ..It keeps their hair out of thier work
Ladies still do this ..It keeps their hair out of thier work
“Maya” is the common name for the massive cultural complex that once spanned almost 8 degrees of latitude and that after 3,000 years, still distinguishes itself in Mesoamerica. The indigenous Mayans live in linguistic bands from the South Mexico to the Yucatan coast.

The volute or caracol was Mayan-ese for
The volute or caracol was Mayan-ese for “eternity”
There are more than 28 Mayan languages still spoken in the lands between Mexico and Honduras. Much of the linguistic pattern has been revealed since the 1960’s  Like archeologists and anthropologists with their image libraries, comparative linguists study data bases of current structures and ancient origins of living languages.

Displaying characteristic Talud and Tablero structure and an unsightly incroachment on the top dating from the 1900s
Queretero ruin displaying characteristic Talud and Tablero structure and an unsightly incroachment on the top dating from the 1850s
The late arriving Uto-Aztecan language, Nahuatl, is said to have migrated south from the deserts of North America around the 7th century. After a few generations, this arty lingua franca became popular with singers and poets in the cosmopolitan, warring and continuously dominating Teotithuacan.  This city grew to become the largest in the Americas (and impressed the European invaders, too) by around 1200. The official home to the Aztecs/Mixtecs, today it is mostly buried under Mexico City’s metroplex.

At the time of the conquest. Nahuatl was spoken by Toltecs as far away as Yucatan and by Maya in the present day Quiche District of Guatemalan highlands. The words must have eased trading and, eventually might have brought the loose alliances of MesoAmerica into a working unit–   But, Nahuatl was too “foreign” to be used for local affairs and since there was no common currency –except, maybe, the Cocoa bean, even if it were desired, overt unification would never have been possible .

This Zapotec site in Oxaca spun off smaller sites during it's 1000 years.
Monte Alban, a Zapotec site in Oaxaca spun off smaller sites during it’s 1000 years.
Still, since preclassical times, disparate cities shared a remarkably uniform sense of time and place.  People knew the names for stars, planets and some contellations  and that they had a pantheon of angry gods – some of whom could only be appeased by human sacrifices. This cast of deity-characters adorned temples and public spaces and reified the mysterious force behind the ritual cycles.

Two cosmic ball players or a couple of kings dressed to look like the Twins who played ball in Xihbalba - underworld
Two Popol Vuh ball players or a couple of kings dressed to look like the Twins who played ball in Xihbalba – underworld
By the Classical period, kings and nobles, were about identifying themselves as priests, ballplayers and warriors and are seen all over walls and pottery from The Valley of Mexico to as far south as Copan…. These depictions displayed fundamental  references to ancient mythological gods and creatures and sometimes referenced historical figures – like King Pakal of Palenque.  Pottery survives better than bark books and can be traced.  One Teotitucan style took about twenty years before it was seen in far flung grave sites. The remains of architecture and art are used to date times when a technology or cosmogony was accepted into an area. But, What special goods or stories tipped a group from a customer base into a temple buddies?  Was it the ballgame with rubber from the Olmecs, predictive astronomy, improved agriculture, fancy warrior symbols or hallucinagenic plants or something else that moved the people to practice trade expansion, war and human sacrifice??

At Atzompa and beyond, nobles sat in the short ends of the “I” shaped court   betting on the (sort of sacred) action..
One theory for the distribution of complete “memes” was that the proto Maya were seafaring.  After all, the Vera Cruz Olmecs had both rubber and cloth. — Could they not have made water resistant sails or caulked portable “canvas” canoes and just taken off? Maybe the Mayas at Izapa invented the early calendar because they could see the Zenith Passage from their about 15° Latitude. Somehow, that homegrown knowledge was useful enough for traders to talk about.  It is possible that farmer’s knowledge of this unique viewpoint allowed the Maya to calculate how to produce two harvests a year with 120 day corn?  Agricultural surplus ushered in social stratification, then Kingship and Priests.

In spite of their challenging terrain and vastness of their reach, the varieties in their languages and the serial interventions of conquistadors and modern opportunists, the Mayans keep their spirit, producing fiber arts and built design — rich and undiluted.

Shown with skeletal form.. precureor to day of the dead..
Shown with skeletal form..
precursor to day of the dead..

Open Letter on Banking Policy and Indigenous Mayan Women

Banking is difficult for indigenous women and the more uneducated, the more prone they are to victimization in financial matters. On a larger, international scale their formal associations are prohibited from directly entering online markets without a some form of a “sponsor” — The “proxy” is usually an NGO. In hard times the middleman can be a “friend” with a US bank account or a group that specializes in charging transaction fees. But, there are no free markets open to indigenous small businesses.

Espanol sigue…

“But it is the men who are attacking the women. If there is to be a curfew, let the men stay at home.”  Golda Meir speaking about the proposed “legal” cure for a epidemic of rapes.

Banking is difficult for indigenous women and the more uneducated, the more prone they are to victimization in financial matters. 

Universally women’s associations and women individually have higher hurdles than men.  In Guatemala they are prohibited from directly entering online markets without a some form of a “sponsor” — The “proxy” is usually an NGO. But, in hard times the middleman can be a “friend” with a US bank account or a more organized group  — they are profiting transaction fees.  So, there are no “free markets” open to indigenous small businesses.

Some women fear banking because they don’t know how to evaluate institutional offerings. They  often believe that they need to “pay for help” in filling out the forms.  Recently, a woman was talking to a group of twenty Katchiquel speaking women, who had assembled around her in the park. The leader was warning them off of contracting with a group offering the services through COLUA/Micoope because the fees were very high. I did not stay ro see what she was offering.. 

Craftswomen crave access to world markets, but tiny enterprizes are bound by too stringent requirements.  Said differently, the regulations in place to constrain a likely (male) perpetrator unduly limit women’s participation.

There is no way around this fact..

Policy makers need to turn back the clock to the 1970’s and reexamine restrictive “language”… at least, in Guatemala. Non domestic legal documents, such as Articles of Incorporation for a cooperative, routinely, include woman’s marital status. Such documents are silent about men’s relations. If we are tied to our marital status, then, loan and financing  vetting processes should be re-calibrated to reflect men’s overwhelming position as the titled possessors of real property.  Applications need  to value such things as a woman’s possessions/tools such as loom, inventory of yarn or finished goods, occasional income produced from garden and livestock.

For forty years, organizations have come into being to assist women in offering individuals micro-credit but no one is addressing the gender bias that unfairly puts the “curfew” on women because of the men.

“Pero son los hombres que están atacando a las mujeres. Si ha de haber un toque de queda, dejar que los hombres se quedan en casa. “Golda Meir hablando acerca de la cura propuesta para una epidemia de violaciones.

La banca es difícil para las mujeres indígenas y el más ignorante, más propensos que son a la victimización en los asuntos financieros. Incluso en una escala internacional más amplia de sus asociaciones formales no pueden entrar directamente a los mercados en línea sin una cierta forma de un “patrocinador” – Esto puede ser una ONG, un “amigo” con una cuenta bancaria o un grupo que se especializa en el cobro de tarifas de transacción. Pero no hay libre mercado para las pequeñas empresas.

Muchas mujeres temen con razón la banca porque no saben cómo evaluar ofertas institucionales. A menudo creen que tienen que pagar por la ayuda en el llenado de los formularios. Recientemente, una mujer estaba hablando con un grupo de veinte mujeres que hablan katchiquel, que se habían reunido a su alrededor en el parque. El líder les estaba advirtiendo fuera de la contratación con un grupo que ofrece los servicios a través de COLUA / MICOOPE porque las tasas eran muy altas.

Artesanas anhelan el acceso a los mercados mundiales, pero en el post-9/11 mundo, Enterprizes de la mujer sometida a las exigencias demasiado estrictas. Dicho de otra manera, las regulaciones para restringir una probable agresor (masculino) limitan indebidamente la participación de las mujeres.

No hay manera de evitar este hecho ..

Los responsables políticos deben reexaminar “lenguaje” … por lo menos, en Guatemala. Documentos jurídicos internos no, como el Pacto Social por escrito en esta década, incluyen el estado civil de la mujer y no dicen nada acerca de los hombres de. El proceso de investigación de todo para las mujeres debe ser re-calibrado para reflejar la posición abrumadora de los hombres como necesitan ser cambiados a valorar las cosas tales como las posesiones / herramientas de una mujer como telar, inventario de hilo o productos terminados, los ingresos ocasionales poseedores de bienes inmuebles y aplicaciones producido a partir de jardín y la ganadería.

Durante cuarenta años, las organizaciones han llegado a ser para ayudar a las mujeres en la oferta de los individuos microcrédito pero nadie abordar el sesgo de género que pone injustamente el “toque de queda” en las mujeres debido a los hombres.