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.
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.
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.
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.
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?