Religion plays an important role in the lives of the local population. Signs of this are evident not only in the city proper of San Cristobal but even more so as you peruse the countryside surrounding this beautiful city.
Scattered along the road side you’ll find random shrines built into the hills or rocks.
Every community no matter how large or small has a temple or church of ornate colors. Some still bearing the natural garlands although dried and withered; awaiting the next years celebration to renew.
Large or small, there are a myriad of color schemes. However the basic structures are very similar.
The Mayan cross is a mainstay throughout. You’ll find it like above it it’s own structure or alongside one of the many churches.
Each community seems to have it’s unique color scheme. Most revolve around blues and greens. However, no color is immune from bright pink (above) to yellows, reds and hues of lavender.
An example of the Mayan crosses along the roadside with dried withered foliage. I can only imagine what beauty it would be when freshly adorned with green pines and colorful flowers.
This one reminds me of a mini version of the Cathedral in San Juan de Chamula.
In Route to Tenejapa is Romerillo Cemetery. It’s a beautiful and unique place with local customs evident. The multiple Mayan crosses as grave markers are marked with only the date of death as the local customs do not record the date of birth.
You can’t hardly miss the graveyard el Romerillo. As your driving through, the sky high crosses immediately capture your attention. Draped in the foliage from the previous Day of the Dead celebrations (November 1st).
Below shows a full grave. According to Moon Travel Guide “The boards represent doors, and every November 1 (Día de Todos los Santos, or All Saints Day) the living gather in the cemetery to commune with their dead. The grave of a loved one is first cleaned to appear freshly dug, then decorated with flowers, offerings of food and drink, and a thick layer of pine boughs (evergreens represent eternal life). Then, holding a shawl over their heads, family members lift an edge of the board and speak directly, sometimes at length, with the spirit of their deceased relative.” The graveyard itself is a wonder to see. I can only imagine seeing it in it’s full peak of celebrations.
I have attempted to figure out the significance of the colors used on the churches and Mayan crosses with mixed results. If you research Mayan Blue, it purports that it was a color used to paint people for sacrifice, specifically for sacrifice in the cenotes near Chitzen Itza. I found this a little creepy so I continued to search for another answer. I found a second source reports that “The Maya believed the world was a horizontal plane with four corners, each represented by a color. East was red symbolizing the rebirth of the sun. West was black – the place for the sun’s death. White represented north and yellow was south. A fifth vertical coordinate lay at the earth’s center and its color was blue-green.” I don’t know that this truly explains the use of such vibrant colors throughout the area but it’s a start.
- The Cathedral at San Juan de Chamula (arediscoveredlife.wordpress.com)