Manuel Jiménez is the most respected elder in his Tsotsil community in Chiapas. He was chosen by the gods as a gifted poet to provide spiritual guidance and inspiration to the community through his beautiful words. Younger generations take the significance of ancestral symbolism such as protective spirit animals and the sacred mountains lightly. However, in his role as Bankilal (the older brother), Manuel strives to reconcile the contrasting beliefs that surround him through vivid prayer and public involvement in the day-to-day activities of the community. This quiet observation illustrates the situation as contemporary lifestyle versus cultural permanence and shows how elders have adapted to syncretic forms of worship since the introduction of Catholicism.
by María Dolores Arias Martínez
with Manuel Jiménez