Thursday's Child: Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Chichicastenango, Guatemala is the centre of Kiche culture, Kiche being a subgroup of the Mayans. The town is known primarily for two things - its twice-weekly market, and the rituals practiced on the steps of the Church of Santo Tomas.



Every Wednesday and Saturday evening, artisans and farmers arrive in Chichicastenango from villages in the neighbouring central highlands. They set up their booths the evening before sale day, and sleep there - often with their family - so they can open early in the morning. Since the town sits at an altitude of about 6500 feet, it's often a cold night for the artisans at the outdoor stalls.




On Thursday and Sunday mornings, the market opens at dawn for the highland villagers to shop. We arrived later in the morning, by which time the market was bustling with locals and out-of-towners. Vendors here sell an enormous array of goods, including masks, pottery, fruit and vegetables, chickens, incense, candles and tools. Huipiles, the traditional garments worn by Guatemalan women, are sold along with sashes, tablecloths, and other textiles.


The Church of Santo Tomas, which sits next to the market, is unique in the rituals performed by its members. This 400-year old Catholic church permits the performance of Mayan-influenced rites alongside the more traditional church rituals. Eighteen steps lead up to the church, one representing each month in the Mayan calendar. While we were there, we watched as the Kiche people offered rituals on those steps: they burned incense, lit candles, and spread flower petals. The odor of incense was overpowering, even though we walked in the church by the side door; the front door, shown here, is reserved for Kiche worshippers.


9 comments:

Rebecca Subbiah said...

looks wonderful love all the colors

Angie Schneider said...

So exotic and different from our markets..it must have been fun visiting a market like this.
Have a fantastic day, Beth!
Angie

Natalie Aguirre said...

Just seeing the pictures makes me want to go. You go to some of the coolest places.

Barbara said...

Two of my favorite things: kitch and markets. The colors are wonderful and I was interested in the steps of the church; had never read about that anywhere.

Valerie Gamine said...

I've always been fascinated by Mayan (and Aztec) cultures, especially after the movie Chocolat. :)
What a colourful town..even the name! And that fruit, the size of those mangos!!

Monica said...

What a great look into this amazing market. It must be so eye-opening to visit all these foreign places. it's wonderful you can do that and share it with your children.

Liz Berg said...

What a colorful, extraordinary market! The rituals on the steps of the church are fascinating, too.

New Release Books said...

Oh, my! Such a blast of color. Thanks for sharing these colorful photos!

Claudia said...

There is something wonderful about the fact that Mayan culture still exists. The beauty and color of the photos show it's vibrancy.

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