The Agricultural Deities of Q’eqchi’ Mayas, Tzuultag’as: Agricultural Rituals as Historical Obligation and Avatar of the Cultural Reservoir in Rural Lanquín, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala

YiShan Lea

Abstract


This study, based on fieldwork in rural Lanquín, Guatemala, discusses cultural continuity and the sense of historicity through agricultural rituals and worship of the agricultural deity Tzuultaq’as. The place, Lanquín, and the Q’eqchi’ Maya peasant farmers are situated within a two-fold tension and contradiction. Geographically remote in relation to the economic centers in Guatemala, and marginal in infrastructural development, while their cash crop harvests never fail to be effected by the fluctuations of the global market. From the eclectic stance merging both theories of cultural essentialism and constructivism, by juxtaposing the emblematic event of the anti-Monsanto Law movement in 2014 in Guatemala, and by the calendrical cycles of ritual events, routines, and ceremonials in rural Lanquín, the subsistence practices of milpa (corn field) cultivation emerge as a central theme for cultural survival and continuity. The aggregated clusters of ritual processions and the system of symbolism used manifest the Q’eqchi’ peasant thought and practice of sustainability and conservancy in their construction of a modern cultural identity that maintains congruency with the cultural essence of a nativist identity.


Keywords


Maya cosmology; Q’eqchi’ agricultural rituals; Tzuultaq'as; San Agustin Lanquin; Guatemala

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2478/jef-2018-0010

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ISSN (print) 1736-6518. ISSN (online) 2228-0987. JEF is a joint publication of the University of Tartu, the Estonian National Museum and the Estonian Literary Museum.