The Lacandon Maya of Chiapas, Mexico


Old Chan K'in ViejoThe Lacandon Maya's are the native people of La Selva Lacandona in Chiapas, Mexico. For hundreds of years they were living in the Lacandon forest. They are mostly known for their long white tunics and long black hair. According to anthropologists their ancestors traveled from Yucatán to Chiapas during the seventeenth and eighteenth century to avoid Spanish domination. They were successfull, because they succeeded to avoid white influence until the 1940's, when the first missionaries came to the forest. The Lacandon themselves, however, are convinced that they descend from the Ancient Maya who once lived in the cities of Palenque, Bonampak and Yaxchilán. Perhaps the truth is somewhere in the middle.  

The Lacandones call themselves the Hach Winik, which means True People in their language. The origin of the word Lacandon comes from ah akantunoob, which means: 'those who raise idols'. This name was given to them to the surrounding Mayas that where converted to Christianity and were living in the direct surroundings of the Lacandones. Spanish colonists simply called them Acantunes and the forest they were living in El Acantun. On a certain moment the name was changes to El Lacantun, after which the forest came to be known as El Lacandon, and its inhabitants Lacandones.

What makes the Lacandones special is the fact that they were able to avoid years of Spanish domination and thus the influence of the Spanish culture. Because of this they still live on their own traditional way.