Maximón Lives!

Maximón Lives!

A few months ago, I posted as part of the Theme Day some Maximón effigies made from wood, now holly wood really since Maximón is worshiped by the Maya people of Guatemala. The appearance of the person in today’s photo is so close to being a live representation of the Maximón effigy that I could not think of a better name for the images, even while taking the photographs. Below, there is additional information regarding Maximón so you can understand humor behind the today’s title.

Michael Bosio shared this with us:

Maximon is Cakchiquel [Kakchiquel] for Don Simon. He is somewhat associated with Judas, and therefore a connection to the devil. Offerings are made to him for less than honest favors such as revenge, wealth, and love interests. When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1978-81, I saw his effigy in Zunil on several occasions, but if you want to see the total San Simon cult you must go to San Andrés Itzapa in the department of Chimaltenango. They have a temple there full of old memorabilia, offerings, etc. It’s a real industry with shops set up to sell statues, offerings,etc. It’s worth the bus ride to see this, and it’s not just the Indigenous People that perpetuate the cult.

Below, an introduction to Maximón from Wikipedia.

The origins of his cult are not very well understood by outsiders to the different Mayan religions, but Maximón is believed to be a form of the pre-Columbian Maya god Mam, blended with influences from Catholicism. Maximón may also be called San Simón. Originally, he was believed to be a Catholic priest who had looked after aboriginals during early 1600s.

Where Maximón is venerated, he is represented by an effigy which resides in a different house each year, being moved in a procession during Holy Week. During the rest of the year, devotees visit Maximón in his chosen residence, where his shrine is usually attended by two people from the representing Cofradia who keep the shrine in order and pass offerings from visitors to the effigy. Worshippers offer money, spirits and cigars or cigarettes to gain his favour in exchange for good health, good crops, and marriage counseling, amongst other favours. The effigy invariably has a lit cigarette or cigar in its mouth, and in some places, it will have a hole in its mouth to allow the attendants to give it spirits to drink.

Maximón is generally dressed in European 18th century style, although with many local variations. In Santiago Atitlán he is adorned with many colourful garlands, while in Zunil (where he is known as San Simón) he has a much more intimidating style, with his face obscured by dark sunglasses and a bandanna.

The worship of Maximón treats him not so much as a benevolent deity but rather as a bully whom one does not want to anger. He is also known to be a link between Xibalbá The Underworld and Bitol heart of heaven (Corazón del Cielo). His expensive tastes in alcohol and cigarettes indicate that he is a very human character, very different from the ascetic ideals of Christian sainthood. Devotees believe that prayers for revenge, or success at the expense of others, are likely to be granted by Maximón. (source: Wikipedia)

Video of What Would Maximón Do? courtesy of Kara Andrade of NewMaya.org:

© 2010 – 2013, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • Gini

    My husband and I met Maximón in Santiago Atitlán. I’m very interested in seeing him in Zunil now as well! Great pic today.

  • Alvis Dunn

    Even closer…try San Andres Itzapa

  • Brian Wozniak

    love this photo, it is uncanny . . . I had to do a double-take, it looked so much like the statues of Maximon, I needed to check the face for details to make sure it wasn’t another statue. =-)

    I love seeing when inspiration strikes.