A fragment of ancient culture dies with the guardian of the Sacred Book of Mayas

Aniceto May Tun, scribe at the Tixcacal Guardia Ceremonial Center and the only one allowed to read the “A’almaj T’ aan,” the Sacred book of Mayas Macehuales, died today aged 112 at the community of X-Pichil, Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Quintana Roo.

Don Aniceto’s death was preceded a few days ago by that of Crescencio Pat Cahuich – the descendant of the rebel leader Jacinto Pat – who died at the Señor community in Carrillo Puerto.

Aniceto and Crescencio were part of a group of Mayan old men whose ancestors participated in the Maya Social Way, also known as the Caste War, that began in 1847 and ended in 1901.

The scribe, an appointment granted by the Maya focused on writing documents, was famous in his community for knitting beautiful hammock with sisal fibers.

The indigenous man had been sick for several days and had a fever this week; as many old Mayans, he lived by himself.

According to Marcos Canté, president of the “Xyaat” tourism cooperative, Don Aniceto died at 12:20 in X-Pichil, a rural community located 50km away from Felipe Carrillo Puerto.

“I had just visited him with some people to buy him a hammock last Thursday. I gave him a bit of money to help him with medicines because he was sick and had a fever. Today they told us he died,” said Canté.

In an interview with EL UNIVERSAL, Canté explained that Don Aniceto was considered the “guardian” of the “A’ almaj T’aan, ” a book written in Latin and Greek considered the sacred Bible of the Mayas Macehuales that hold “all the secrets and prophecies of what is to come.”

“Not everyone can see, touch, or read the book, only he could,” he said by pointing out that just as May Tun received the book in custody, he left a successor, Don Mauro, who will now be the guardian of the tradition and cult.

The book was handwritten by the previous guardian, Dionisio Itzab, who gave it in succession to May Tun, who learned how to write when he was 10 years old.

It was Aniceto himself who talked about the existence of the book to photographer Serge Barbeau, who made a series of portraits to twenty old Mayan men in 2015 and which he gathered in an edition called “The Last Witnesses of the Caste War.”

Barbeau’s portraits were exhibited years later at Cancún’s Mayan Museum as well as in Mérida, Yucatán, and Mexico City, the latter by the initiative of the Direction of Culture and Public Affairs of Quintana Roo’s office of representation in Mexico City.

The idea of making portraits came from Marcos Canté, who thought of accompanying them with brief texts that described passages of the Mayan Social War, a biography of the participants and memories or anecdotes from the old men and women, of whom there are only two.

“The world will burn; it is thus written in the A’ almaj T’aa, the stars will fall and other phenomenons like that will occur, The Christian Bible coincides with some texts of the A almaj T’aan, now people live with insults and debauchery, no one obeys, they’re like animals, there’s no education,” reads the testimonial book that quotes Don Aniceto’s narration about the content of the Mayan Bible.

Moreover, the book includes his narrations about the smallpox outbreak that hit the Maya population in 1910; that Quintana Roo was close to being given to England; that couples could only get married if they knew the Mayan prayer, and that marriage is forever. He also mentioned his quest to find the successors of the sacred knowledge.

“I went to visit the Tixcacal Guardia ceremonial center to see if they served God, but I only found children there; they know nothing; I tested them,but they are only children, they only do nonsense; for instance, there are people who learned the Mayan prayer but since they learned it incorrectly, they are teaching others that way; Mayan writing has points, crosses, and symbols that only some people can understand,” said Don Aniceto.

According to his testimony for this photographic work, the A’ almaj T’aan establishes humanity will not reach the year 2025.

“It’s written it will be like that. There are stomach aches in many countries; all nations have problems and want to fight each other; they fight between brothers and say they know a lot; when the time comes, we will get away from the ts’uulo’ on (white or foreigners) and the Maya will live among the chaos,” said May Tun in his narration.

Mourning Crescencio’s and Aniceto’s death, the head of the Direction of Culture and Public Affairs of the Quintana Roo’s representation office in Mexico City, Martha Latapí, said that the death of both figures represents the disappearance of part of the living history and causes a moment of reflection about the urgency to revaluate the huge historical, cultural, and human wealth of the state.

Latapí, who was in touch with Barbeau years ago to exhibit the old adults’ portraits in Mexico City, said that the Mayan dignitaries had always been zealous in revealing their knowledge and stories to the world but shared their testimonies because they considered it was time to do so.

“Serge told me that at first, it was very difficult to him for them to allow being photographed, but with time, they began to gain trust and talk to him about the stories they had kept for so long, which shows the need they had to tell their stories; that’s why I consider the book set a precedent.” the said.

The old Mayan people who were photographed included Abundio Yamá, Agapito Ek Pat, Alberto Cruz Peraza, Angelino Chablé Chi, Aniceto May Tun, Cecilio Poot, Celestino Cruz Peraza, Crescencio Pat Cahuich, Faustino Tamay Marín, Félix Cruz Peraza, Isabel Sulub May, Gregoria Peña Canul, Higinio Kauil Pat, Máximo Witzil Nah, Mamerto Kauil Oat, Sabino Pech Angulo, and Vicente Ek Catzín.

Latapí remembered that just last year she was invited to the Tixcacal Ceremonial Center to an important festivity of the community and was even dancing and drinking balché – a ceremonial beverage made with tree bark – with Don Aniceto.

“In addition to the personal loss, this goes beyond and helps us value the treasure they represent in terms of history and culture,” she said and quoted, as a way of recognition, the efforts made by civil organizations to put in the map the culture of indigenous people at a national and international scale through community tourism.

Source: El Universal



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