Tzotzil of Chamula - Settlements



Chamula's contemporary settlement pattern represents a continuation of ancient Maya ones. Most of the people live close to their land, in about one hundred hamlets of varying size. The civil-ceremonial center, or jteklum as the Chamula call it, contains a small permanent population. Civil officials move into Chamula Center for one to three years to carry out their duties, whereas religious officials rent a house for a few weeks to celebrate the saint under their care. The Chamula flock into town for market days (Saturdays and Sundays) and for religious celebrations (several times a year). Before 1960, the Chamula built wattle-and-daub homes with thatched roofs. At present, only the poorest people live in such houses. Most Chamula eventually build homes with cement blocks and tile roofs. Dirt floors are the rule. The fact that emigrants found new colonies that reproduce fundamental cultural traits of the original community reveals the vitality of Chamula culture and society.


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