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BIRDS AMONG MAYANS


BIRDS AMONG MAYANS

Among the Mayans, which life was closely related with nature, birds had a special meaning. That’s why you can find them painted (very stylized) in ceramic glasses, plates, codices and even in funerary urns.

At present times, that symbolic value survives, specially like an ornament or decoration in huipils. The ones from women of Santiago Atitlan, are full of birds. The long and blue ones from the ixil area, north of El Quiche, they carry birds and other animals knitted with vivid colors and in diamond shapes.

The quetzal feathers were privileged ornaments for kings and deities during the classic period (years 300-900 A.C.). Due to their high value, they were trade in all the Mesoamerican area, from Teotihuacan (central Mexico) through the south. This bird keeps having a great symbolic value in the souls of Guatemalan people and to see it alive is a longing since childhood. By the way, one of the safest and easiest area to observe it, is at the “rey Tepepul” area (king Tepepul), south of Santiago Atitlan.

The hummingbirds also had a great value in the life and imagination of the Mayans. They were associated to war and love. The first, because they are territorial birds and a bit aggressive. The second, due to their type of flying and feeding, they’re always looking for colorful flowers with petals that hide the tasty honey. All towns around Lake Atitlan preserve a series of myths and tales surrounding hummingbirds sometimes is the guardian of the Lake and other times, a matchmaker for lovers.

According to how many birds appear represented on various Mayan pieces, they have the following order: big parrots, small parrots and macaws; hummingbirds, herons, eagles, hawks; vultures, owls, and turkies.

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Mayan Birds is a project that started at Eco Hotel Uxlabil Atitlán, inspired by the diversity of birds found in Lake Atitlán. We offer bird watching tours guided by specialized local guids that will make your tour a rewarding experience.

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