Images of Guatemala.
I’ve met this lady on a previous trip, she features in the Destination Craft Show on PBS.
She sits in the square near the church and for a small fee ill demonstrate how to wrap the head gear. The red hand woven strip is about 10 feet long and the colored part on the end sits on the outside of the weave. It’s fascinating to watch her do it. I saw a number of older women with this head attire, but mostly they just wore a cloth or ribbon covering.
The cemetery in Chichicastenango.
Away from the town center of Chichicastenango, Guatemala, on a hill that is rarely touched by tourists, one of the most colorful cemeteries in the world is hidden in plain sight. Steeped in Mayan tradition, the vibrant rainbow of pigments celebrates the afterlife, and can symbolize different family roles, like a color-coded clue to the puzzle of the dead.
Featuring rows upon rows of painted crosses and tall mausoleums, the Chichicastenango Cemetery is a perfect example of Guatemala’s brighter outlook on burials. In a town where the majority of the population is indigenous Mayan K’iche, the cemetery is also the home to a variety of rituals on Day of the Dead, including incense, alcohol, and the occasional chicken as offerings to the deceased.
Many tombs are colored based on the person’s family status. Tombs may be painted white to represent purity; graves of mothers are painted turquoise for protection; grandfathers are marked in yellow to indicate that the golden sun will protect humanity. Other graves break this more traditional mold, painted in lime green or red or the favorite color of the deceased.
We watched a Mayan ceremony. There were candles, with each color representing specific ideals. Each color can have more than one meaning, and the meaning is open to individual interpretation rather than one strict meaning.
White: North – purity, light, love, calm and tranquility
Yellow; South – energy of life, health, protection
Black; West – push away bad energy, negativity, and illness
Red; East – love, passion, energy, and to take sadness away. The fire element it is an activator and catalyzer
Blue; heaven, rain, happiness, inner vision and revelations of our dreams
Green; hope, success, abundance
Purple; push away bad thoughts and illness, a true healer
Flowers, incense, food, tobacco, and alcohol can be offered as gifts to the Gods to give them reason to listen to us. As the fire burns, your thoughts, prayers, and mediations are lifted up in the smoke to be carried to the heavens. Your negative energy is released, and our positive energy is empowered.
It was fascinating and mystical at the same time.