Sacred Bird Messengers of the Chamula Maya
Tsotsil-Maya elder, curer, singer, and artist Maruch Méndez Pérez began learning about birds as a young shepherdess climbing trees and raiding nests for eggs to satisfy her endless hunger. As she grew into womanhood and apprenticed herself to older women as a curer and seer, the natural history of birds she learned so roughly as a child expanded to include ancestral Maya beliefs about birds as channels of communication with deities in the spirit world who had dominion over human lives. In these testimonies dictated to her lifelong friend, anthropologist Diane Rus, Méndez Pérez describes her years of dreams, instruction, and experience.
- University of New Mexico Press
- November 2023
- 336 Pages
“This book is a masterpiece. Méndez Pérez has not only given us a narrative of inestimable importance, but Rus has enabled us to compare her understandings and knowledge of birds with those of other Maya peoples in Mesoamerica.” —Christine Eber, author of Women and Alcohol in a Highland Maya Town: Water of Hope, Water of Sorrow
“An extraordinary document. . . . It is not just a fascinating study of an indigenous woman’s wisdom about birds, the sacred, and their role in the workings of the cosmos, it is also an exemplary model of intercultural conversation and experimentation. . . . A work of great ethnographic density and expressive beauty.” —Pedro Pitarch, author of The Jaguar and the Priest: An Ethnography of Tzeltal Souls