Issue 15
winter 2011 Issue fifteen
  2012 Arte Maya Calendar

Our new 2012 Arte Maya Calendar features a detail of the painting of texeles in Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan on the cover. The artist, Lorenzo Gonzalez Chavajay, died in 1996. Like Grandma Moses, he had taken up painting late in life when he retired. Lorenzo painted things he remembered from his lifetime, customs and traditions that had changed during his life. Lorenzo developed a style of painting that is unique among the Maya artists.


The 2012 calendar, as in previous years, has original paintings by twelve different Maya artists. The paintings of three women artists highlight the  calendar. Among the population of Maya artists, there are only a handful of women painters whereas there are hundreds of Maya men who paint. The twelve artists featured in the 2012 calendar come from three Maya towns: two where Tz'utuhil and one where Kaqchikel is spoken.


  In this issue:

Arte Maya 2012 Calendar
Book: The Cosmic Ballgame
Scholarships for Maya Children
Painting Sale
Maya Textiles: sources
Atitlán Marathon
Maya Calendar artist
  Book Review:
The Cosmic Ballgame

What 2012 and Mayan Creation Mean for Us

By David Miller

David Miller devoted a lot of energy to researching the Maya creation story, the Popul Vuh. Miller devotes most of this book to narrating the action of short segments of the Popul Vuh, and to sharing his understanding of each segment of events. He ties the Popul Vuh to the reign of 18 Rabbit, one of the important Maya rulers of Copan, and to modern day ball games. Miller interprets this all from a feminist perspective in light of the ending of the Maya cycle in 2012. The front and back covers of the book are illustrated with paintings by a Tz’utuhil Maya artist, Diego Isaias Hernandez. This book is available in both Kindle and Print editions from and from Amazon.

  Scholarships for Maya Children

The young man in the photo to the right stands in front of his family's adobe house. The tube on ground that brings water to the house twice a week so that the women no longer have to go down to the lake and carry the water back in jugs on their heads. He is the first person in his family to graduate from high school. Arte Maya works with Casa Rosario to help provide scholarships, full or partial depending on need, so that young people, don't drop out of school because of their family's financial situation. The students receive anything from $50 to $200 a year depending on need. For most, this is enough to pay for books and tuition for the entire year. Vicente Cumes, the director, micromanages this program so that no money is wasted, and 100% goes to children in need. Cumes asks families who can pay something do so in order. The program is named VIRMA for the two women who started the program—VIRginia Shrader and MAhiya Norton. Click to learn more and donate

  One Week Painting Sale:
50% Off of paintings by three artists

The downturn in the economy has affected everyone including Arte Maya. We continue to buy paintings from most of the artists so that they can continue do things such as send their children to school. However, more money is going out than coming in. We are having a one-week half-off sale (until Saturday, December 4) on the paintings of three artists. Hopefully this will help us to continue supporting these artists.
Mario Gonzalez Chavajay
Diego Isaias Hernandez Mendez
Jose Antonio Gonzalez Escobar

  Maya Textiles:
Information and Sources

The Ixchel Museum of traje [native Maya dress] in Guatemala has just published a fold out map (or unfolded as a two-sided poster) identifying huipiles [Maya blouses]of the 117 Maya communities. Currently this is the best publication for learning what town a huipil  represents. It is not yet available on the Ixchel Museum website, but can be purchased for $15 by ordering from  

Indigena Imports,, run by collectors Sally and David Hamilton is an excellent U.S. source for the finest quality huipiles. Nimpot in Antigua is the most inclusive source in Guatemala, and Nimpot has a wonderful website. AMIDI in Healdsburg California,, is a non-profit that supports the Maya weavers of Pachay las Lomas.

  Atitlán Marthon and Festival:
Lake Atitlán Restoration

I received letter from my friend Richard Morgan who lives in Panajachel. Richard has consistently helped promote the work of the Tz'utuhil artists to those people visiting Guatemala. Lake Atitlan, one of the world's most beautiful lakes, has become highly polluted in recent years. Morgan and others have organized a non-profit marathon festival during May of 2012 to raise money to help restore the lake and to celebrate the changing of the epoch in the Maya calendar. Read more on the Atitlán Marathon website

  Maya Calendar Metalsmith

We often receive requests from artists to be included in Arte Maya. Unfortunately we do not have the resources or energy to help these artists, but in October we received an email that included work so beautiful that we want to share it with you. César Alvarado [] had attached images of the Maya calendars that his father-in-law creates by embossing aluminum. The design of each one is unique, and takes his father-in-law from one to two months to make working every day. Each calendar is based either on the Haab' (solar) or Tz'olkin (ceremonial) Maya calendars. César wrote:

"In the center circle or disc is the cargador, which is the Nahual [spirit] in charge of irradiating with its energy the year to which it corresponds. There are 4 cargadores which are changed every year. This regarding the Haab or Sun Calendar. The 4 cargadores are included with the calendar and can be easily changed. Then there´s the second circle or disc which is the one that tells the month (20 months in the Tzolkin calendar an 18 months in the Haab'. The last circle is the one that indicates the day which goes in 13 numeral cycles in the case of the Tzolkin and 20 day cycles in case of the Haab (Once one cycle has ended a new one begins)."