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Mayan Folktales: Folklore from Lake Atitlán, Guatemala Paperback – February 1, 1999
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From Publishers Weekly
Anthropologist Sexton ( Ignacio ) has compiled nearly 40 folktales from the Mayan Indians, focusing on the Quiche-Maya of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. In so doing, he reveals a rich and complex culture that is still very much alive. Many of the myths, according to Sexton, are designed to reinforce behavior considered positive by the society. They often demonstrate a bawdy sense of humor, as in the story of the promiscuous woman who eats her lover's sex organ and as a result dies of thirst. Others reveal an anti-technological strain (a rich man tries to send his son money by hanging it on the telegraph wire). Finally, the highly entertaining story of the Rabbit and Uncle Coyote, in which the clever rabbit constantly outwits the coyote, cannot help but remind readers of the African-American tales of Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Fox or modern "Roadrunner" cartoons--thus showing the universality of the emotions tapped by these myths.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"The collection serves splendidly the purpose of a wide variety of readers. All levels."
The collection serves splendidly the purpose of a wide variety of readers.
A delightful collection by the eminent anthropologist and his Mayan collaborator. Written in an oral style, filled with ancient wisdom.
. . . a colorful mlange of myths . . . Sextons collection reveals an enlightening picture of native Guatemalan culture . . . It provides valuable information on diverse aspects of the culture of Lake Atitlan.
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I had a hard time viewing any of these as a form of cultural insight. Being of Mayan and Aztec descent, I cringe at the possibility that this book may be serve as reference to either cultures' general standards and intelligence levels.
Within this book Sexton has translated and edited thirty-five Mayan folktales told to him by his friend Ignacio Bizarro Ujpan who is a Tzutuhil Mayan Indian living in a town along the shores of Lake Atitlan in the highlands of Guatemala. The tales related are witty, fun and serious and sometimes bring one up with a start. This is a delightful book to read, but along with being entertaining it is a demonstration of the value of folktales within the anthropological realm of the study of a culture.
Analytical work such as Sexton has performed within the pages of Mayan Folktales, as he presents the tales for our enjoyment, also provides a window through which his audience can look to grasp a concept of Mayan thought and culture, modern and ancient. It has been a recognized fact since the 19th century that information exists within the midst of a vast floating body of folk traditions and practices which can add to the speculation of cultural origins, personality, values and attitudes.
Sexton's Introduction is a story in itself and gives the reader the background needed to thoroughly understand and enjoy the tales, his Notes give additional needed explanations. This book is not only a delight to read, but is also demonstrates the rich source of cultural insight concerning obligations, beliefs, values and thought systems to be found in folklore about how a people rationalize political, religious, social and economic behavior.