Maya Syncretism

Indigenous worship in Guatemala is shaped both by native Maya and introduced Christian traditions. Beginning in the 16th century with the Spanish conquest, missionaries popularized Catholicism in Guatemala, where it was the official religion throughout the colonial period.  By the 1800s, Protestants, including Evangelicals and Pentecostals, arrived to the region. Today, almost half of the population practices Catholicism, and 40 percent practice Protestantism, making it the most Protestant country in Latin America.

While it is estimated that less than one percent of the population follow the Maya religious tradition today, many of its key elements have persisted in modern indigenous forms of worship. The resulting religion is a syncretic blend of Christian and Maya components, creating a religious experience unique to the region.

Using photos from the M.A.R.I. archival collections, this exhibit highlights the intersections between Christian and Maya worship in indigenous Guatemalan communities. Mutual covenants, physical representations of holy figures, shrines, incense, candles, and offerings are all facets of worship seen in both Maya and contemporary Guatemalan Christian traditions.

Duration: Fall 2018

Curated by: Erin Patterson

Location: 3rd floor of Dinwiddie Hall, Tulane University

Acknowledgements: Made in Conjunction with the MARI Internship Program

Exhibit Sections