"Wish you were here" or
"Deseo que estés aquí" 

by Susan Toomey Frost

 "Wish you were here" is a universal greeting on picture postcards -- those little pieces of heavy paper that we send to family and friends so that they can see where we've been.

A lot of information is packed on a postcard, particularly one that was sent a century ago. What is printed or written on a card, or attached to it, adds layers of interest and significance. Who sent it and to whom? What was it like back then? If the card was mailed and the postage stamp is intact, what do the stamp and cancellation tell us? Who took the photograph or drew the picture that appears on the card? Who was the printer or distributor? How and where was it made and sold? How much did it cost? Does the card promote or advertise something? Was it part of a set or series?

For countries like Great Britain and the United States, decades of collecting and research have answered many of these questions. But for smaller countries like Guatemala, little or nothing has been documented. Given its comparative isolation and long history of devastating earthquakes and political unrest, Guatemala was never a major tourist destination. Armchair travelers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, however, were eager to see the strange and exotic, and Mayan pyramids and artifacts were veiled in mystery that excited their imagination. They delighted in placing images of foreign peoples and places in their albums. Photographers fanned out from the developed world to capture those images during what is now known as the Golden Age of Postcards. Publications like National Geographic, founded in 1889, helped meet the demand of a public fascinated with pictures of people who appeared very different from themselves. No doubt the photographs encouraged some Europeans and Americans to feel superior to such people and to exploit them.

From the Spanish conquest forward, foreigners went to Guatemala to make their fortunes. Beneath Guatemala's natural beauty were resources that attracted foreign interests. A docile population acquiesced while Guatemala's riches spread east to Europe and north to the United States. Foreigners established coffee and banana plantations, electrical power networks, and transportation systems. Indigenous peoples planted and harvested the crops, built power plants, railroads and ports, and transported the products to the sea. Cities became showcases of broad avenues and stylish architecture that reflected the success of these ventures. Many of the early postcards were likely products of boosterism. Pictures of what was being accomplished were proudly mailed, encouraging more investment and immigration. All of this -- and more -- is reflected in the postcards.

Guatemala has a rich history of photography beginning in the mid-1850s and influenced by Eadweard Muybridge, who lived there in 1875. The earliest known picture postcards in Guatemala, however, date from the turn of the century. Postcards may have been thought to have little value and were discarded, for relatively few prior to World War II have survived. Although many photographs were taken by foreigners whose view of their subjects was ethnocentric, what is seen on those postcards is precious and often poignant today. Early postcards document a people in transition and cultural legacies evolving into different forms. The images -- and this is especially true for real photo postcards -- may be the only visual and historic record that has survived!

Centuries of foreign influence had left Guatemala ill-equipped to maintain a stable society amidst political turmoil. Particularly culpable was the CIA, which on behalf of United Fruit and in the name of anti-Communism, overthrew Guatemala's democratically elected government in 1954 and installed a harsh military regime. Guatemala has suffered five decades of civil war and genocide. With the exception of the work of artist-photographer Daniel Hernández-Salazar, nothing of this brutal period is recorded on postcards.

Often we are lucky to know who took a particular picture, and too often, the name is all we know. Although various publishers issued standard view cards, this web site features only the work of photographers whose work has been documented. Collecting, archiving and analyzing such information is relatively new in Central America. The effort to gather and preserve as much evidence as possible is vital because vintage photographs capture an era that is vanishing, and in many cases, is already gone forever.

“Deseo que estés aquí” Es un saludo universal en las tarjetas postales. Esos pequeños pedazos de papel grueso que enviamos a la familia y amigos, para que puedan ver en donde hemos estado.

Un montón de información se guarda en una postal, particularmente en una que fue enviada un siglo atrás. Lo que se encuentra impreso o escrito en una postal, o adjunto a esta, agrega capas de interés e importancia. ¿Quién la envío y a quién? ¿Cómo era en ese entonces? Si la postal fue enviada y el sello o timbre está intacto, ¿Qué es lo que el sello y el precio pagado nos dice? ¿Quién tomó o dibujó la fotografía que aparece en la postal? ¿Cuál fue la imprenta o quién el distribuidor? ¿Cómo y dónde fue hecha y vendida? ¿Cuánto costo? ¿Promueve o anuncia algo? ¿Es parte de un set o alguna serie?

Guatemala tiene una rica historia de fotografía, empezando a mediados de 1850 influenciada por Eadweard Muybridge, quien vivió ahí hasta 1875. La postal de fotografía más temprana conocida en Guatemala. Sin embargo, una fecha muy cercana al cambio de siglo. Las postales fueron pensadas para poseer un valor insignificante y fueron descartadas, relativamente muy pocas antes de la segunda guerra mundial han sobrevivido. Aunque muchas de las fotografías fueron tomadas por extranjeros, quienes tenían un punto de vista etnocéntrico, lo que se ve en esas postales es precioso y conmovedor hoy en día. Las primeras tarjetas postales documentan a la gente en transición y desarrollando su legado cultural, de diferentes formas. Las imágenes de las postales fotográficas son verdaderamente especiales y reales. Quizás es el único record visual e histórico que ha sobrevivido. 

Siglos de influencia extranjera han dejado a Guatemala mal equipada para mantener una sociedad estable en medio de una política confusa. La particular culpable fue la CIA, quien a favor de la UnitedFruitCompanyen nombre del anticomunismo, derrocó al gobierno electo democráticamente en 1954 e instaló un violento régimen militar. Guatemala desde entonces, ha sufrido 5 décadas de guerra civil y genocidios. Con excepción del trabajo del artista fotográfico Daniel Hernández Salazar, nada de este periodo brutal ha sido salvaguardado en postales. 

Muchas veces somos afortunados de saber quién tomo una foto en particular y muchas de las veces el nombre es lo único que sabemos. Aunque varios editores emiten tarjetas postales estándar, este sitio web se caracteriza por mostrar solamente el trabajo de fotógrafos cuyo trabajo ha sido documentado. Recolectar, archivar y analizar dicha información es relativamente nuevo en Centro América. El esfuerzo por reunir y preservar la mayor cantidad de evidencia posible es vital porque las fotográficas clásicas captan una era que se está desvaneciendo, y que en muchos casos, se ha desaparecido para siempre.


There are 32 historical postcards available to support the effort of Casa Cakchiquel.

Emilio Eichenberger

Postcards bearing the imprint of Emilio Eichenberger, from Switzerland, appear as early as 1900. The cards resemble half of a stereo view, with the image printed on the left side and the right left empty for writing a message. At least 60 cards comprise a series of individual and group portraits entitled "Tipo de Indio" or "Indios," most of whom are not specifically identified by ethnic community. Posed in front of a painted backdrop with all the formality of a European photography studio, the subjects were probably paid to sit for their photographs, which were sold commercially. The original portraits were taken on glass plates, and one can read "Giron, Fot." in reverse print on some of the images. 
 When postal authorities allowed written messages on the back of postcards, the image was allowed to fill the front side. Eichenberger issued a numbered series that includes general views, along with photographs of the damage caused by devastating earthquakes in 1917-18. (Damage from the 1773 earthquake that nearly destroyed Antigua is still visible.) The postmarks on these divided-back cards date from the 1930s and 1940s.

Las postales con la impresión de Emilio Eichenberger, de Suiza, aparecieron a comienzos de 1900. Las postales reflejan la mitad de una vista stereo, con la imagen impresa del lado izquierdo el lado derecho un espacio vacío para para escribir un mensaje. Al menos 60 tarjetas postales comprenden una serie de portratos individuales y de grupo titulados “Tipo de Indio” o “Indios” en los cuales no se identifica específicamente una comunidad étnica. Posicionándolos al frente de un fondo pintado, con toda la formalidad de un estudio fotográfico europeo. Probablemente los sujetos fotografiados fueron pagados para que se sentaran para sus fotografías, las cuales fueron vendidas comercialmente.

Roberto Eichenberger

According to the Eichenberger family web site, Roberto Eichenberger O. was born in Guatemala in 1902, attended the Agfaphoto Schule in Berlin in the 1920s, and freelanced for National Geographic magazine. His black and white real photo postcards were printed on Kodak paper that dates from the 1930s to the 1950s. His wife, Mary Nicol, hand-tinted his photographs and photographic Christmas cards. Kleine Überschrift

De acuerdo a la website de la familia Eichenberger, Roberto Eichenberger nació en Guatemala en 1902, asistió a la escuela Agfaphoto en Berlín durante 1920, y periodista para la revista NationalGeographic. Sus tarjetas postales de fotos reales en blanco y negro fueron impresas en papel KODAK durante las fechas de 1930 hasta 1950. Su esposa, Mary Nicol, tiñó manualmente sus fotografías y sus tarjetas de Navidad. Kleine Überschrift

Alberto Valdeavellano

Albert G. Valdeavellano (1861-1928) published postcards under several variations of his name. The haunting real photo in bluetone on this web site's title page is signed Fernández, perhaps the partner in Fernández-Valdeavellano Foto, whose known postmarks date from 1903. The firm's earliest postcards were lithographs printed in Europe from black and white photographs. Only an address could be written on their undivided backs, and limited space was provided on the front of the cards for writing a message. Later Valdeavellano postcards, whose known postmarks date from 1907 to 1913, lack Fernández' name. Printed on a divided back, the image fills the face of the card in tones of either brown, blue, grey, green, or even rainbow.

Albert G. Valdeavellano (1861-1928) publicó postales bajo varias variaciones de su nombre. La impactante foto real en bluetone en la portada de este sitio web está firmada por Fernández, tal vez el socio en Fernández-Valdeavellano Foto, cuyos matasellos conocidos datan de 1903. Las postales más antiguas de la firma fueron litografías impresas en Europa a partir de fotografías en blanco y negro. Solo se podía escribir una dirección en sus espaldas indivisas, y se proporcionaba un espacio limitado en el anverso de las tarjetas para escribir un mensaje. Más tarde, las postales de Valdeavellano, cuyos matasellos conocidos datan de 1907 a 1913, carecen del nombre de Fernández. Impreso en una parte posterior dividida, la imagen llena la cara de la tarjeta en tonos de marrón, azul, gris, verde o incluso arcoíris.


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 Adolfo Biener

The earliest known postmark on a postcard published by Adolfo Biener is 1915. Apart from the marking, Biener's early cards are almost indistinguishable in subject matter and printing style from those of Alberto Valdeveallano. Archaeological sites, earthquake ruins, and portraits predominate.
 Unlike Valdeavellano, whose only use of color was in solid or rainbow tones, Biener in the 1920s began publishing a line of postcards printed by a full color lithographic process. The differences can be noted in the middle example above, as well as in the examples below. These color cards have white borders, and later ones have deckle, or uneven, edges to their white borders.

El primer sello o timbre conocido en una postal fue publicada por Adolfo Biener en 1915. Separadamente de los sellos o timbres, las primeras postales de Biener son casi indistinguibles en tema y estilo de impresión de los de Alberto Valdeveallano. Sitios arqueológicos, ruinas de temblores y los retratos son los predominantes.
Diferente a los de Valdeveallano, quien uso solamente colores solidos o tonos de arcoíris, Biener en 1920 empezó a publicar una línea de tarjetas postales impresas por un proceso litografíco a todo color.

Kodak began operating in Guatemala in August 1927 as Biener & Compañía Ltda.Like his counterpart in Mexico, German-born Hugo Brehme, Adolfo Biener offered photo processing and photographic equipment and supplies from the United States and Germany. For some 35 years Biener also published tourist postcards, along with booklets containing 12 postcards that could be detached and mailed individually.Biener's real photo postcards generally have numbers and titles that were written on the negatives, which then were printed with white borders on Agfa, Gevaert, Azo or Kodak papers, and signed either by backstamps or blind-embossing. In the 1930s, a series of over 200 photo postcards published by Adolfo Biener & Cia promoted Guatemala's coffee industry. Some of the cards are marked with the initials A.R.W., implying that someone other than Biener took the photographs, with Biener having the rights to publish them. The titles on the front are in Spanish, while the promotional line on the back, "Guatemala produces the best coffee in the world," is printed in Spanish, English and German.  

KODAK empezó a operar en Guatemala en agosto de 1927 como Biener& Compañía Ltda. Tal y como su contraparte en México, German-born Hugo Brehme, Adolfo Biener ofreció equipo de procesamiento fotográfico y accesorios de Estados Unidos y Alemania. Por algunos 35 años Biener también publico postales turísticas con folletos que contenían 12 tarjetas postales que podrían ser separadas y enviadas individualmente.

Biener's Hand-Tinted Images

Adolfo Biener colorized his photographs into postcards that lie between two major periods in postcard making: black and white real photos and color chromes. Before color film was readily available in Guatemala, Biener's technique, exactly like that of Luis Márquez in Mexico, made his postcard images appear as if they had been shot in color. (Although KODACHROME slide film was introduced in 1935, AGFACOLOR print film in 1936, and KODACOLOR in 1942, Guatemalan and Mexican postcards do not reflect the common use of color film until the 1950s.)  The real photo postcard at top right was individually printed in a darkroom. The negative has been titled and numbered "Fabricando Tinajas. Guatemala. 40." Embossed in the lower right corner of the face of the postcard is "Adolfo Biener / Guatemala." The paper on which the negative was printed was manufactured by Azo from the mid-1920s until the 1940s.To create the postcard at bottom right, an original black and white photo was colored by hand. The resulting "master" copy was then mass-produced mechanically by a chromo-lithographic process. The new title is "Indígena de Chinautla, quemando ollas." It is numbered "Foto-Biener Nr. 1162" and "Propiedad del Editor" is printed vertically down the center of the back. This example wasn't mailed, but others in the series were postmarked in the 1940s.  

G. Hurter

Based in Quetzaltenango, G. Hurter was most likely from Germany or Switzerland. Hurter's real photos are found on postcards with divided backs. Senders must have preferred to enclose them in envelopes instead of posting the photos unprotected in the mail, for few are found with postmarks. The postcard at above right was sent to Switzerland in 1907. Hurter placed a small signature in a bottom corner of a real photo postcard. An example has been enlarged at above left. Hurter also published a series of at least 33 views in color. The color examples shown below all date from 1918.

Establecido en Quetzaltenango, G. Hurter era muy probablemente de Alemania o Suiza. Las fotos reales de Hurter se encuentran en postales con respaldo dividido. Las personas que las enviaron habrán preferido enviarlas dentro de un sobre, en vez de enviarlas descubiertas por el correo, por tal razón muy pocas tienen un sello o timbre. La tarjeta postal en la parte superior derecha fue enviada a Suiza en 1907. Hurter firma en la esquina inferior de la postal de una foto real. Un ejemplo ha sido ampliado en la parte superior izquierda. Hurter también publico una serie de al menos 33 presentaciones a color. Las muestras de abajo muestran las fechas desde 1918.

G. Hurter - Collecion de Ronny Herrera Quetzaltenango

Gracias por compartir!

Joaquín Muñoz

1898 (Huehuetenango) - 
1979 (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida)

A vintage tourist brochure featuring images taken by several photographers states that Muñoz was Official Photographer for the National Tourist Bureau. Clark's Tours, a company still in the travel business in Guatemala, published a series of 60 postcards with photographs credited to J. Muñoz. The cards are called "linens" because they are printed on textured paper stock with a mellow, canvas-like appearance. The cards were made by the Curt Teich Postcard Company, near Chicago, Illinois, in April 1940. Some 44 additional Guatemalan views were printed by Curt Teich and published by La Helvetia in 1948, but the photographer is not credited.
Many of the postcard images were published in a book entitled Guatemala Ancient and Modern, by Joaquín Muñoz and Anna Bell Ward (New York: The Pyramid Press, 1940.) Muñoz dedicated the book to the memory of Alfred S. Clark, founder of Clark's Tours. Muñoz photos illustrate another title, Guatemala: From Where the Rainbow Takes Its Colors (Guatemala: Tipografía Nacionál de Guatemala, 1940)

 1898 (Huehuetenango) - 
1979 (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida) 

Un folleto clásico y turístico que presenta imágenes tomadas por fotógrafos de diferentes estados cuando Muñoz era el fotógrafo oficial de la Oficina Nacional de Turismo. Clark Tours una empresa que sigue en el negocio turístico en Guatemala, publicó una serie de 60 tarjetas postales con fotografías que fueron acreditas a J. Muñoz. Las postales son llamadas “Linens” “Sabanas” porque fueron impresas en un papel con textura suave y aspecto de lona. 

Muchas de las imágenes de las tarjetas postales fueron publicadas en un libro titulado Guatemala Antigua y Moderna, por Joaquín Muñoz y Anna Bell Ward (Nueva York: La Prensa Pirámide, 1940) Muñoz dedicó el libro a la memoria de Alfred S. Clark, fundador de Clark Tours. Las fotos de Muñoz ilustran otro título, Guatemala: De donde el arco iris toma sus colores (Guatemala: Tipografía Nacional de Guatemala, 1940)

 Lionel Stein (1920-1961)

 In the late 1940s, Lionel Stein (1920-1961) produced a series of 90 real photo postcards with white borders. Printed on EKC (Eastman Kodak Company) postcard paper, each negative was numbered and titled in English, with "STEIN Photo" neatly placed in a lower corner. On a series of 20 views made for Casa Contenta, information appears in typeface on the front of the cards.

Stein also worked in color film. "Lusterchrome" postcards, given courtesy of the National Tourist Bureau, were printed by Tichnor Bros. in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Stein also produced a large series of color slides depicting tourist attractions. His photography studio was at 6a. Ave. 10-45 in Guatemala City.

A finales de 1940, Stein produjo una serie de 90 postales de fotos reales con borde blanco. Impresas en papel postal EKC (Eastman Kodak Company) cada negativa fue numerada y titulada con “SteinPhoto” en inglés, perfectamente ubicada en una esquina inferior. En una serie de 20 presentaciones hecha para Casa Contenta, la información aparece en typeface al frente de las postales.

 Pablo Sittler | Foto Europa

The photographs for postcards credited to Pablo Sittler were taken in both black and white (called real photos, or RPs) and color film (called chromes) in the 1960s and 70s. Bearing Sittler's own imprint or that of Foto Europa, some of the RPs have deckle, or uneven, raggedy edges, and their numbering system runs to at least 118 images. Other RPs have straight edges, white borders, and titles but no numbers. Many titles for the RPs and chromes are printed in dual translation.  

The Lito B. Zadik Company published full-color photographs in a standard size of 3-½" by 5-½" that the company credited to Pablo Sittler. The cards bear a printed price of 5¢. Other photographers for the Zadik company are featured on the following page of this site.  

Las fotografías para postales acreditadas a Pablo Sitter fueron tomadas en ambos colores blanco y negro (llamadas fotos reales o RPs) y a colores (llamadas chromo) en 1960 y 70. Teniendo Sittler su propia imprenta o esas de Foto Europa, algunas de las RPs tienen pestanas, desigualdades, bordes usados y su sistema de numeración llega hasta por lo menos 118 imágenes. Otras RPs tienen bordes rectos, blancos y títulos pero no números. Muchos títulos para las RPs y Chromo fueron impresos en traducción dual.  

Nothing is known about el indio and i haven't have found anyone that knew anything about the gentlemen who did these fantastic panoramic photos. If you have any knowledge please be welcome to share with the world. 

No se sabe nada en Google en El Indio y no he encontrado a nadie que supiera nada sobre los caballeros que hicieron estas fantásticas fotos panorámicas. Si tiene algún conocimiento, puede compartirlo con el mundo por favor.

Masks Dances in Guatemala

Masks have been an important part of Mesoamerican culture since the Mayan Classic period (ca 200 - 900 A.D.). They used to be combined with costumes and performed during ritual events. After the arrival of the Spanish, the mythical and magical meaning of the masks lost importnce over time and became but requisites in dance theatres. The dramas still performed today in the highlands of Guatemala are a strong mix of Christian and Maya culture. 
Hardly any scripts exist for the dances of which most are performed during religious holidays. They vary greatly in composition and content and from place to place. Though every dance has its corresponding mask inventory, a mask can easily be given a new identity with only a few brushstrokes or alternations if there is a need for another character. Therefore, the identiyfication of the types is often not possible. The performances by the natives usually take place in public spaces in a casual atmosphere and are mostly accompanied by marimba music. 

The dance of the bulls
El baile de los toritos

During the 16th century, the Spanish conquistadors brought a number of traditions to Latin America, for instance bullfighting. This activity was reserved exclusively for privileged Spanish, whereupon the indigenous society invented the ironic baile de los toritos in the 17th century. The plot goes that in honour of the patron saint of his farm, a herd owner hosts a bull. Also present are his farm custodian, his daughters, the senoritas, African slaves as well as herders who drive the bulls into the ring. The dance comes to a gory end: the bullfatally injures the wealthy herd owner The death of the rich Spanish constitutes the conclusion of the dance.

Durante el siglo XVI, los conquistadores españoles trajeron a Latinoamérica una serie de tradiciones, por ejemplo las corridas de toros. Esta actividad estaba reservada exclusivamente a los privilegiados españoles, por lo que la sociedad indígena inventó el irónico baile de los toritos en el siglo XVII. El argumento cuenta que, en honor del patrón de su finca, el dueño de un rebaño recibe a un toro. También están presentes el guardián de su finca, sus hijas, las señoritas, esclavos africanos y pastores que conducen a los toros al ruedo. El baile tiene un final sangriento: el toro hiere de muerte al rico ganadero. La muerte del rico español constituye el final del baile.

The dance of the Moors and Christians
El baile de los moros y cristianos

The baile de los moros y cristianos originates from Spain. The dance recounts the long fight against the Moors (8th - 15th century) and celebrates the victory of the Christians. The Spanish used this dance for the conversion of the Maya. Although the Maya created their own version, the baile de la conquista, the Spanish dance is still performed to this day.

El baile de los moros y cristianos es originario de España. El baile narra la larga lucha contra los moros (siglos VIII-XV) y celebra la victoria de los cristianos. Los españoles utilizaron esta danza para la conversión de los mayas. Aunque los mayas crearon su propia versión, el baile de la conquista, el baile español se sigue interpretando hoy en día.

The dance of the conquest
El baile de la conquista

The Spanish defeat of the Maya left deep wounds. The baile de la conquista helps to come to terms with the past. The content tells of the last battle against the Spanish. The Aztec girl Malinche (1505 - 1529) who was the personal translator of the Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortes (1485 - 1547) has frequent appearences in the dance, though she does not fit in the historical context The baile de la conquista is based on the baile de los moros y cristianos, but it became popular only later - the memories were still too painful. Despite the forced conversion, a big part of the old culture and tradition lived on. These values are represented by a red mask called Ajitz which continues to live freely and independently.

La derrota española de los mayas dejó profundas heridas. El baile de la conquista ayuda a superar el pasado. El contenido narra la última batalla contra los españoles. La niña azteca Malinche (1505-1529), traductora personal del conquistador español Hernán Cortés (1485-1547), aparece con frecuencia en el baile, aunque no encaja en el contexto histórico. El baile de la conquista se basa en el baile de los moros y cristianos, pero no se popularizó hasta más tarde, pues los recuerdos eran aún demasiado dolorosos. A pesar de la conversión forzosa, una gran parte de la antigua cultura y tradición pervivió. Estos valores están representados por una máscara roja llamada Ajitz que sigue viviendo libre e independientemente.

The dance of the deer
El baile del venado

Once probably performed as a ritual for a successful hunt, the baile del venado today is one of the oldest dances with any elements originating from the Maya culture. It addresses the deer hunt and the struggle for meat between predators and humans. In the dance, tigers, jaguars and lions face the hunters and their dogs in the fight for a deer. In the end, the hunters succeed and the entire village has enough to eat.

El baile del venado, que probablemente se interpretaba como ritual por el éxito de una cacería, es hoy una de las danzas más antiguas con algún elemento originario de la cultura maya. Aborda la caza del ciervo y la lucha por la carne entre depredadores y humanos. En la danza, tigres, jaguares y leones se enfrentan a los cazadores y sus perros en la lucha por un ciervo. Al final, los cazadores triunfan y todo el pueblo tiene suficiente para comer.

German coffee barons
Proprietarios alemanes de hacienda de cafe

The three gentlemen with blonde moustaches most likely represent German coffee plantantion owners.

Los tres caballeros de bigote rubio representan probablemente a los propietarios alemanes de cafetales.

San Simon - Maximon

Of all the masks, this is the only one which does not belong to the dances but is mounted on a life-size doll. This type of mask with black hair and moustache plays a strong religious role and is at the same time the contact person for the town community. It embodies the saint San Simon. If he is addressed in Spanish, he represents various Catholic saints. If on the other hand he is approched in the native dialect, he transforms into Maximon and represents Mayan deities. He can be asked to do good or bad deeds and he is paid with alcohol, cigarettes and money.

De todas las máscaras, ésta es la única que no pertenece a las danzas, sino que está montada sobre un muñeco de tamaño natural. Este tipo de máscara con pelo y bigote negros desempeña un fuerte papel religioso y es al mismo tiempo la persona de contacto de la comunidad del pueblo. Encarna al santo San Simón. Si se dirige a él en español, representa a varios santos católicos. Si, por el contrario, se le aborda en el dialecto nativo, se transforma en Maximón y representa a las deidades mayas. Se le pueden pedir buenas o malas acciones y se le paga con alcohol, cigarrillos y dinero.

The devil
El Diablo

The Spanish imorted the figure of the devil to Latin America. The Catholic missionaries set the religion of the Maya equal with the devil in order to convert them. The devil found his way into the native dances. Today he is a common character in the dance theatre and enjoys great pobularity.

Los españoles importaron la figura del diablo a Latinoamérica. Los misioneros católicos equipararon la religión de los mayas con el diablo para convertirlos. El diablo se introdujo en las danzas nativas. Hoy es un personaje habitual en el teatro de la danza y goza de gran pobularidad.


The masks and costumes are produced in family-runworkshops called morerias. The dancers borrow the colourful masks and costumes for festivities. After the items are returned, they are repaired and stored until the next event. The moreria owners often mark the masks on the inside with their personal initials. Most of the workshops were founded in the 19th and early 20th century, although there are indications that similar organisations already existed during the 17th and 18th century.

Las máscaras y los trajes se fabrican en talleres familiares llamados morerías. Los bailarines toman prestadas las coloridas máscaras y trajes para las fiestas. Una vez devueltos, se reparan y se guardan hasta el siguiente evento. Los propietarios de las morerías suelen marcar las máscaras en el interior con sus iniciales personales. La mayoría de los talleres se fundaron en el siglo XIX y principios del XX, aunque hay indicios de que ya existían organizaciones similares en los siglos XVII y XVIII.