a small and stucco-white town, lying on the crests of mountaintops
at an altitude of 1,965 meters. It is located about 140 km and
2-3 hours drive northwest of Guatemala City and is home to what
is surely the most colorful native market in North and Central
America, perhaps in all the Americas.
famous handicraft market of Chichicastenango draws not only the
K'iche' Maya of the surrounding region, but vendors from all over
Guatemala. They represent many of Guatemala's linguistic groups
such as Mam, Ixil, Kaqchikel and others, each hawking his or her
products in a riotous cacophony of color, dialects and costumes,
smoke, and smells. This town in the mountains of Quiché
has been, since pre-Hispanic times, one of the largest trading
centers in the Maya area.
begin setting up portable booths in the main plaza and adjacent
streets of "Chichi" the night before and set-up continues
in the early daylight hours. Outstanding among the items offered
are textiles, particularly the women's blouses. The manufacture
of masks, used by dancers in traditional dances has also made
this city famous for woodcarving. Much of what is sold is of good
quality, but there is also products in Chichi's many factories
for the not-so-discerning foreign companies.
major attraction in Chichicastenango is the 400-year old church
of Santo Tomás which is situated next to the market. Shamans
still use it for their rituals, burning incense and candles and
in special cases a chicken for the gods. Each of the 18 stairs
that lead up to the church stands for one month of the Mayan calendar
year. The Mayan calendar has 18 month of 20 days each.