San Juan de Chamula , Chiapas Mexico

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San Juan Chamula is a municipio (municipality) and township in the Mexican state of Chiapas, with over 50,000 inhabitants. It is situated some 10 km (6.2 mi) from San Cristóbal de las Casas.[1]

Chamula is located in the Chiapas highlands, at an altitude of 2,200 meters (7,200 feet), inhabited by the indigenous Tzotzil Maya people, whose Tzotzil language is one of the Mayan languages.

The town enjoys unique autonomous status within Mexico. No outside police or military are allowed in the village. Chamulas have their own police force.

The church of San Juan, in the municipal cabecera (headtown), is filled with colorful candles, and smoke from burning copal resin incense, commonly used throughout southern Mexico. Along the walls of the church, as in many Catholic churches, are dressed-up wooden statues of saints in large wooden cases, many wearing mirrors to deflect evil.[citation needed] The local form of Catholicism is a blend of pre-conquest Maya customs, Spanish Catholic traditions, and subsequent innovations.

There are no pews in the church, and the floor area is completely covered in a carpet of green pine boughs and soda bottles (mostly Coca Cola). Curanderos (medicine men) diagnose medical, psychological or ‘evil-eye’ afflictions and prescribe remedies such as candles of specific colors and sizes, specific flower petals or feathers, or - in a dire situation - a live chicken. The specified remedies are brought to a healing ceremony. Chamula families kneel on the floor of the church with sacrificial items, stick candles to the floor with melted wax, drink ceremonial cups of Posh, artisanal sugar-cane-based liquor, Coca Cola or Pepsi, and chant prayers in an archaic dialect of Tzotzil.

Photography in the town is very difficult as parents will hide their children or they themselves will turn away as soon as they spot a camera. Photography within the church is strictly prohibited as is photographing the Christmas procession to the church. They can throw you out of town if you attempt to violate this rule.

The main agricultural products are corn, beans, potatoes, and cabbage.[citation needed]

Women often make traditional clothing, blankets, and souvenirs that include Zapatista-related items, such as pens with a clay figure on top in the figure of Subcomandante Marcos or Comandante Tacho.

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Comments (30)

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Lucien Kivit on June 8, 2012

Johnnie, thank you for your nice omment, greetings Lucien

Lucien Kivit on June 10, 2012

Albrecht , thank you for your nice comment and like, greetings Lucien

Manek Taolin on June 18, 2012

Very nice photo



Manek Taolin

Lucien Kivit on June 18, 2012

Manek Taolin , thank you for your nice comment, YS and like, greetings Lucien

蒂芙尼.林 on June 25, 2013

wonderful and fabulous shapshot & good composition on colour setting YS:3 + LIKE:14

congratulation and have a nice day for you Lucien

best regards from tiffany Liem

Lucien Kivit on June 25, 2013

Tiffany Liem , thank you for your nice comment, YS and like , greetings Lucien

Stéphanesage on March 23, 2014

* incroyable l'ambiance dans cette Eglise ;-)*

Lucien Kivit on March 25, 2014

Stéphanesage, you are right, scenes I'll never forget, greetings Lucien

RNLatvian 8 days ago

Really beautiful! Like! Greetings!

Lucien Kivit 5 days ago

RNLatvian , thank you for your nice comment and like, greetings Lucien

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Lucien Kivit
Rijkevorsel, België

Photo details

  • Uploaded on May 14, 2010
  • Attribution-No Derivative Works
    by Lucien Kivit
    • Camera: FUJIFILM FinePix2600Zoom
    • Taken on 2003/09/21 16:51:40
    • Exposure: 0.006s
    • Focal Length: 6.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/8.700
    • ISO Speed: ISO100
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • Flash fired