November 2006

Issue one of a new newsletter


Arte Maya Tz'utuhil

Casa Rosario Spanish School

In This Issue:

  New Book on Maya Spirituality
  2007 Arte Maya Calendar
  San Pedro CommunityCenter Opens
  Casa Rosario Helps Impoverished Maya Students
  Carlos Merida Maya Traje Prints


The idea of doing a newsletter was suggested to me a week ago when I was thinking of doing a mailing to tell people about my friend Jean Molesky Poz' new book. I am now planning to do a newsletter several times a year. If you do not want to be on the list, please email me at the address below. Since the idea is a recent one for me, the direction it will take is still open. At least I want it to appeal to persons interested in the Tz'utuhil Maya artists, the towns they live in,  and those who have lived in San Pedro la Laguna as Spanish language students. If you have things you think will be of interest, feel free to email me—Joseph Johnston

Jean Molesky Poz writes book about Contemporary Maya Spirituality

In a carefully documented book, Jean Molesky Poz writes about contemporary Maya spirituality. Because of persecution, these beliefs and practices have long been hidden by the Maya, but they since the signing of the peace accords they feel open to expressing their beliefs. Jean has interviewed many of the Maya Ajq'ijab (keepers of the ritual calendar). The most wonderful aspect of the book are the extensive quotes from the Ajq'ijab themselves and her observations as a participant. You can order this book from the University of Texas Press website.

2007 Calendar of paintings by Maya artists includes Maya Glyphs for each Day

As always the calendar is in English and Spanish and includes photographs and biographies of the twelve Maya artists whose paintings appear in the calendar.  For the second year, the Maya Glyphs are included for each day of the year. A brief description of how the Maya calendar works is included at the front of the calendar.

Don't be disappointed. Every year we have run out of calendars by the end of the year. If you buy more than two, the price per calendar goes down. Order the calendar on the Arte Maya website.

Rigoberta Menchú helps inaugurate of Taa' Pi't Kortees Community Center in San Pedro la Laguna

Rigoberta Menchu attended the inauguration of the new Community Center in San Pedro. Juan Manual Gonzalez Chavajay is the director. It was a joint project of Juan Manuel and Barbara Rogoff, a UC Santa Cruz psychology professor who founded the library in San Pedro. The Center has two goals: to teach people how to use modern technology, and to support activities that have traditional Maya values. There are classes in computers and how to use the internet, as well as classes in English. Although the center is for people of all ages, there are special youth programs. You can contact Juan Manuel at:

Individual Sponsorship allows Maya youth from needy families to Graduate

During Virginia Shrader's  course of study at Casa Rosario Spanish Spanish school, she decided to sponsor the educational expenses of a local boy who otherwise would have had to drop out of school. When, about three years ago, Mahiya Norton attended the school, the program was expanded. The program currently pays for the education of sixteen needy students. This October four of these students, including the Juanita Coche Quiacain pictured on the left,  graduated from high school. The cost of schooling for these youth is about $20 per student per month, or $120 a year. Samuel and Vicente, directors of Casa Rosario, carefully select the most needy youth from San Pedro and nearby communities, and administer the funds. Most of the sponsors are people who have taken Spanish classes at Casa Rosario—people from Australia, Canada and the United States. Unlike most charities, 100% of the money goes to the expenses of the students. Casa Rosario covers all operating costs. The students meet once a month and spending the day working on a volunteer project to improve the community.

Carlos Merida prints of Guatemalan and Mexican Traje  on Arte Maya Website

Carlos Merida, a Guatemala born artist of Quiche Maya descent, as a youth traveled to Paris where he was friends with Modigliani and other modernists. Returning to the Americas, he briefly worked with the Mexican muralists, but soon mainly abandoned representational painting in favor of cubism often based on themes from his Maya roots. He did however briefly return to representational art to produce several series of prints of Guatemalan and Mexican indigenous dress.