A Dancing Jaguar and Mayan Spells

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Ámbar Past with Sara Miranda and Tom Slingsby [text in English]; Maria Tzu, Rominka Vet and Maruch Méndes Péres [text in Tzotzil, a Mayan dialect still spoken], Bolom Chon / The Dancing Jaguar (San Cristóbal de Las Casas, México: Taller Leñateros, 2007). Copy 42 of 99, signed by the artists. Graphic Arts division GAX 2008- in process

The two books in this posting are both published by Taller Leñateros, an indigenous book and paper cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico that has been creating handcrafted books for over 30 years.

Bolom Chon features the music and art of the Tzotzil Indians. The covers are made from cardboard boxes mixed with coffee and printed on an 1895 letterpress. The endpapers of the book are made from agave fiber and decorated like the tiger costumes of Tzotzil ritual dancers. The center fold features a pop-up jaguar. In addition, “The cover was stepped on by the Bolom Chon [dancing jaguar] so its footprints remained as a testimony of its passing through the world.”

To see the pop-up Jaguar in action and hear the song, go to: http://www.tallerlenateros.com/gaceta_web/eng/gazette.htm

Taller Leñateros is the only publishing house in Mexico run by Mayan artists. Founded in 1975 by poet Ambar Past, the Workshop has produced the first books to be written, illustrated and bound (in paper of their own making) by Mayan people in over 400 years.

Ámbar Past, Portable Mayan Altar: Pocket Books of Mayan Spells / Conjuros y ebriedades (San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico: Taller Leñateros, 2007). Graphic Arts GAX 2008- in process

Another item from the Taller Leñateros is a set of miniature books of Mayan spells, including a hex to kill the unfaithful man by Tonik Nibak, Mayan love charms by Petra Hernández, and magic for a long life by Manwela Kokoroch.

These texts, in three hand-sewn volumes, are housed in a hut-shaped cardboard case opens to form an altar with two side panels. Along with the three books the authors provide a pot-shaped incense burner, two animal figure candle holders, and a plastic sleeve with 12 candles.

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What a great find...handcrafted books with music and art from the Tzotzil Indians. Collectors and book lovers have to take note.

Thank you for sharing this valuable resource. It really underscores the unique artistry and diversity of the Mayan culture.