The end of the Maya Deer Dance
Articles on Belize Belizean Artists and paintings Banks of Belize The Belize Barrier Reef Birds and Birding in Belize Belize Blogs Boat Charters Bookstore Businesses in Belize Belizean Casinos Caving and Cave tubing in Belize Annual Costa Maya Festival Cruise Ships Belize Scuba Diving and Snorkeling Electronic greeting cards with a Belizean flavor Economics of Belize Ambergris Caye Field Guide Fishing in Belize tarpon bonefish Golf carts Belize History Knowledgebase for Belize and Ambergris Caye Hol Chan Marine Reserve Belizean Holidays Belize Resorts, lodging Belize Maps Tour Guides in Belize Belize Message Boards / Forums National Parks and Reserves in Belize Latest Belize News Ambergris Caye Telephonebook /Directory Photographs of Belize Belize Restaurants Real Estate and Realtors in Belize Shopping in Belize Sitemap Snorkeling in Belize Spa / Massage What to do in Belize Belize Tour Guides, Travel Agents Quick Travel Hints Video Volunteers and Volunteering in Belize Belize Weather Forecast and conditions Belize Weddings, Getting married in Belize What's New on the Website Artists in Belize, Belizean Art
Friday January 20, 2017

Previous | Next | Archive |
Website of the Day

Tony Rath
Editorial, assignment & stock photography from Belize. Pictures, images and photos of nature, people, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker & San Igacio, Cayo. Tony Rath is a professional photographer based along the shore of the Caribbean Sea in the picturesque town of Dangriga, Belize. He is a trained marine biologist and has worked as a diver and underwater photographer for the Smithsonian Institution; diving on oil rigs off California; and captaining a sailboat across the Atlantic Ocean and through the Mediterranean and North Seas. He founded, along with his wife Therese, Naturalight Productions, Belize's premiere Internet marketing company. He now leads the special projects division of the company. The company created and manages numerous award winning websites.
Click here for past
Websites of the Day
The end of the Maya Deer Dance

Many masked dances in the Maya culture have pre-Columbian roots and were incorporated into the Catholic celebration calendar after Spanish contact and conquest. Dances historically performed by the Maya cultures in southern Belize are no exception. The Cortez, Deer, Devil, and Monkey dances, performed by the Mopan and Kekchi, all have a Catholic facade covering a Maya history. Although many stories and acts have been altered to comply with Catholic tradition, these cultural celebrations remain rooted in ancient legends. The Catholic belief system that attributes certain powers to saints was similar to the pre-contact Maya religious universe that delegated certain powers to individual deities. Therefore, masked dances survived and even thrived in a post-contact, Catholic Maya cultural landscape.

Of the Maya traditions that survived the cultural conquest, the masked dance remains one of the most important because it commemorates patron saint's feast days or other religious holidays. Masked dances are significant community events because they involve large numbers of people, demand a great deal of preparation time, and help redistribute local funds through payment for food preparation and musicians. Thus, it serves to enhance solidarity, and material and economic exchange in a community.

Until recently, masked dances maintained great social importance among Mopan and Kekchi Maya. In the past two decades, the tradition of performing masked dances has lost village-wide support or been abandoned completely. One significant factor that has contributed to the decline of this cultural institution is evangelical missionaries from the United States. - Cultural Survival

Maya Deer Dance, Belize

Maya deer dance, a documentary about the history of this sacred Maya tradition, shot in Santa Cruz village, Toledo Belize, Central America.

June 2022:

Government Ministers Experience Deer Dance Celebration in Toledo

Ministers Dolores Balderamos Garcia and Oscar Requeña were in Jalacte Village, Toledo last week to celebrate a unique Mayan sacred dance known as The Deer Dance. The dance depicts a deer hunting scene from around the time of the Spanish conquest which began in the late fifteen century. The Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs sponsored the celebration. Here is what both ministers had to say about the experience.

Oscar Requeña, Minister of Rural Transformation

“It was such a wonderful event this morning in Jalacte where we witnessed the deer dance. It certainly demonstrates the rich culture, the rich diversity of the Kechi Maya, and certainly it is wonderful to see that you know that there are many persons in the community who wants to continue to preserve, and to promote the culture, the traditions, the believes, the language of our Maya people. That is so wonderful.”

Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs

“Our Ministry assisted in sponsoring the event of there, I guess in Spanish you would say, fiesta. I don’t know how they say it in Maya. But, it has been an absolutely gorgeous event. We assisted with the renting of the deer dance costumes.  We assisted with putting on the event. There is marimba. There is dancing. What was gorgeous as well was the ritual of praying in the Maya culture to the ancestors, and for the community, for mother earth, that kind of think. So, minister Oscar Requena and myself were extremely honored to participate.”

Channel 5

Hon. Dolores Balderamos Garcia and Hon. Oscar Requena joined to celebrate the unique Mayan cultural experience of the sacred Maya Deer Dance in Jalacte Village, Toledo, which was sponsored by the ministry. The Ministry of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples' Affairs believes in the cultural preservation of the indigenous people and cultures of Belize.

To see a few videos of a deer dance from April 2022, click here.

Photograph by Tony Rath

Click here to comment on this picture.

Belize Slideshow

Click here for a list of previous pictures of the day
Click here for a large selection of photographs and videos of Belize
Email us - Weyour photographs. Send us yours with a description!

Belize Belize Belize Belize History Belize Weather
Belize Lodging Tours & Recreation Diving & Snorkeling Fishing Travel Tips Real Estate Island Information Visitor Center Belize Business San Pedro Sun Belize Message Board Restaurants Things to do

Belize Picture of the Day

button Home button Island button Community button History button Visitor Center button Goods & Services button Search button Forum button Contact Us button

Copyright by Casado Internet Group, Belize