Tzotzil of Zinacantan - Settlements

Zinacantan has a dispersed settlement pattern, with a ceremonial and political center and twenty-six outlying hamlets. The ceremonial center, usually called "Zinacantan" in Spanish or "Htek-lum" (meaning literally "the land of a group from one set of ancestors") in Tzotzil, is located in a well-watered mountain valley at 2,252 meters, with the hamlets at elevations ranging from 2,580 meters down to 1,600 meters. The 1982 population of the center was 2,269. Hamlets varied in population from the largest—Nachih (2,221), Paste' (2,093), and Navenchauk (1,122)—to the smallest—Icalum (152), Comlum (113), and Tzum El (99). Some hamlets are compact in settlement, others more dispersed, the crucial variables being the terrain and availability of household water in the dry season. Even in compact hamlets, houses are never wall-to-wall. Each extended family constructs a cluster of houses in a compound surrounded by a maize field and separated from neighboring families. House plots are normally inherited by the sons of the family head, and women move into the compounds of their husbands. Houses are usually rectangular, one-room constructions. The traditional house had wattle-and-daub walls and a steep, four-sided roof, thatched with grass. Modern houses are of adobe brick or cinder block roofed with tile. The fire—burning within the area enclosed by the three hearth-stones that hold the griddle for cooking maize tortillas and support the pots of boiling beans or squashes—is located on the floor, normally toward the setting-sun side of the house, the domain of the women. The men's domain, which is toward the rising sun, is where they keep their belongings and sometimes set up an altar containing images or pictures of saints. Since these one-room houses normally have only one or two doors and no windows, they are often smoky. Men sit on small wooden chairs or benches, women on the ground. The members of the family sleep on reed mats placed on platform beds or on the floor.

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