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Friday, September 12, 2008

Birds on the Altar at Santiago Atitlan

The Catholic church in Santiago Atitlan has a famous altar featuring traditional Mayan beliefs mixed with more traditional Catholic imagery (see Allen Christensen's book on this amazing altar, Art and Society in a Highland Maya Community). Above is a panel featuring a traditional Deer Dance (on the left), as well as the local saint Maximón (in the center).

This image of a Quetzal bearing the good word of the gospel comes from the front of the pulpit.

Perhaps most amazing is the navel of the universe, which is a hole in the floor in front of the altar, seen here covered and with two candles on top.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a good shot of the double-headed bird high up on the altarpiece (it was pretty dark in there), which represents a figure from a very old local story.

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