Photos: A Traditional Mayan Graveyard in Chiapas, Mexico

6 comments

Travel Photos: A Traditional Mayan Graveyard in Chiapas, Mexico

This is why I love having my own transportation while traveling, especially if it’s a motorcycle. For the price of a packaged tour to a couple of villages outside of San Cristobal, we were able to rent a 150cc motorcycle and explore on our own. Which means that we got to stop at this charming hillside graveyard while the bus rode right by.

Travel Photos: A Traditional Mayan Graveyard in Chiapas, Mexico

Christianity, Chiapan-style, is a bit different than what we’re used to in much of the world. The cross itself is different: a blend of the crucifix and the Mayan world tree and decorated with Mayan symbols that are probably as old as Christianity.

Travel Photos: A Traditional Mayan Graveyard in Chiapas, Mexico

After a bit of online research, my travel buddy Candy learned that the planks you see on top of the graves are actually taken from the deceased’s house or from a relative’s. I think they help avoid erosion but they obviously serve another more ritual purpose as well.

Travel Photos: A Traditional Mayan Graveyard in Chiapas, Mexico

There were a few Mayan ‘wreaths’ like this scattered about the rather large cemetery, but they seem to only appear at the more upscale/wealthy graves.

Travel Photos: A Traditional Mayan Graveyard in Chiapas, Mexico

Travel Photos: A Traditional Mayan Graveyard in Chiapas, Mexico

I never did learn the story behind the multiple crosses we found on many sites (note that there’s only the date of death — most families don’t keep records, so the date of birth is unknown). I’ve seen such crosses in various Mayan towns and even in the main graveyard of San Cristobal but I have no idea of the significance. Any scholars out there willing to inform us?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jaloola May 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Please let us know what you find out about the crosses. I’m quite curious about it and would also love to know more about the wood planks. I’m living vicariously through you friend…

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wes June 5, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Still asking around but no luck yet.

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Andrea May 15, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Wow, what an interesting and photogenic place! Good find :)

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Ayngelina May 15, 2012 at 11:16 pm

I wish I weren’t petrified of motorcycles, this seems like the perfect way to see Mexico.

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wes May 31, 2012 at 4:25 pm

One of the best places to bike I’ve found so far — I’d rate the Chiapas mountains with Laos in terms of speed, safety, landscape and driver friendliness. It’s a far cry from Vietnam, India or even Thailand…

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al dennis May 16, 2012 at 7:46 am

i await the scholare’s comments. nice shots

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