Last week, as we watch the delegations parade at the Beijing 2008 Olympics Inauguration, I was thinking how wonderful it was to see so many different and unique national dresses from the many countries around the world. Some of the delegations opted for a no-frills-western-style tie-shirt-suit formal dress code, while others chose to show off their identity and national pride through unique garments. I did not get to see the 12-member Guatemalan delegation.
This weekend in my way to the market, I had to stop to photograph something that is very common and unusual at the same time: an indigenous school band. I use the word common as I suppose this something that one can come across often while visiting indigenous communities. I use the word unusual because I, myself, have not seen an all-indigenous school band; just to show you how little I know my country.
I have shown Guatemalan school bands before; do you recall? Student marching bands and Student Band’s Practice at Ermita de la Santa Cruz; What about the Peace Accords of 1996; Night Parade on Independence Day; Guatemalan Independence Day 2007 Slideshow, just to bring forth some of the school band snapshots available at La Antigua Guatemala Daily Photo. But, the question is in how many of those photos did you see an indigenous school band?
While thinking about these issues I remembered a great film I saw almost two years ago that touched upon many of these subjects. Sandrine recommended it first and I loved the movie. It’s title in French is Va, vis et deviens (”Live and Become“) and it is a beautiful story that touches upon identity, race, religion, adoption, history and love from one child’s perspective.
Live and become may be one of the approaches by which the indigenous Maya people of Guatemala have kept alive several different ways of being human over the long and arduous 500 years.
This is the first part of a series regarding Guatemalan indigenous dress, traditions and identity. Below, I share with you a small video clip of their practice before marching on toward Calle del Arco.
INDIGENOUS WORD DEFINITION SIDE NOTE: I use the word indigenous in this site as way to describe native Guatemalan Amerindian people, mostly Maya descendants, whom have decided or still maintain their language, culture, traditions and dress (to name a few aspects of identity).