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Idols and Idolatry in Highland Guatemala

Sandra L. Orellana
Ethnohistory
Vol. 28, No. 2 (Spring, 1981), pp. 157-177
Published by: Duke University Press
DOI: 10.2307/481116
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/481116
Page Count: 21
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Idols and Idolatry in Highland Guatemala
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Abstract

The highland Maya of pre-contact times possessed a polytheistic religion involving the worship of many dieties with differing characteristics. These gods were often represented in the form of idols. Despite Spanish attempts to eradicate this religion, idolatry symbolic of the earlier belief system survived well into the 19th century and even later. The town council and the cofradia provided the contexts within which aboriginal beliefs and practices persisted in modified forms. Unlike technologies and subsistence systems, belief systems because they involve emotions, explain the universe, and provide a sense of social identity often remain sufficiently flexible to accommodate to external pressures and to survive despite these.

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